Lethal means safety: ‘Just have the conversation’

Lethal means safety: ‘Just have the conversation’

When Matt Wetenkamp gets a phone call about a friend or colleague who may be in crisis, one thought immediately pops into his head. “Do they have guns?” said Wetenkamp, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S. Marine scout sniper. “Do they have access to the other guns in the house? Is there somewhere we can keep them for a few days until the dust clears?” “Lethal means safety” was the topic of Wetenkamp’s address to The American Legion National Convention on Sept. 1. Now the veteran suicide prevention coordinator for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Wetenkamp said the window of crisis for an individual is small, and that Legionnaires – as veterans and gun owners themselves – can provide a life-saving intervention simply by taking firearms out of the situation. “It doesn’t have to be grand. You don’t have to say it perfect,” he said. “There’s no perfect way to tell somebody ‘I care about you. I’m worried about you. Can I hold your guns for a couple of days? I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight knowing you’re here alone: empty house, you and all those guns. Can I change the code on your (gun) safe? Or come stay at my place.’ “It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just have the conversation. Reach out.” Wetenkamp said often when people discuss lethal means safety, those people work in public health or for the government. “They have a lot of initials after […]

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