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Mt. Horeb gun shop says storage program successful, hopes new bill allows it to spread

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MT. HOREB (WKOW) — While state lawmakers can’t seem to agree on gun reform, they do seem to agree more needs to be done to prevent suicides. On Thursday, the state Assembly passed a package of bills designed to stop people from harming themselves — including a bill creating a grant program to pay gun store owners to store guns from people who voluntarily turn in their firearms.

Essential Shooting Supplies in Mt. Horeb has been doing that for more than a year.

We first introduced you to them last fall. Since then, owner Chuck Lovelace says the shop has kept dozens of guns in his safe to keep people safe.

“Some people have a tendency to look at this as another gun control measure, and it’s not,” Lovelace said. “It’s not about gun control at all. It’s about limiting access when somebody’s in a time of crisis.”

He says even though people know they can temporarily turn firearms over to law enforcement, there’s a different level of trust with a gun shop.

“We’re part of the gun culture,” Lovelace said. “We’re very deeply mired within the gun culture, and so we understand people have bad days, people have bad weeks, people have bad months.”

Lovelace says getting it all started took a bit of cash.

“The initial investment for us was purchasing a safe, and that was over a thousand dollars,” he said — something he says isn’t easy for smaller gun shops.

A few weeks ago, Lovelace testified at the State Capitol describing his experience to lawmakers. With Thursday’s bill clearing the Assembly, Lovelace is hoping other shops will be able to save lives the way he feels the program has at his shop.

“Even if we only got two or three gun shops per county involved in this, I think that’s a huge step forward,” he said. “Having the funds available to assist those shops in purchasing a safe or help offset the cost of the space being used is huge.”

The bill still has to pass the state Senate and be signed into law by Governor Tony Evers.

Essential Shooting Supplies will also soon be moving to Northern Wisconsin. Lovelace says he hopes to continue the program there, and he hopes others down here will fill his place.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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