Consortium of Grassroots 2A Groups Meet to Amplify Their Messages on Mental Health and Guns – Bearing Arms

Consortium of Grassroots 2A Groups Meet to Amplify Their Messages on Mental Health and Guns – Bearing Arms

There are scores of groups and individuals who are working towards the common goal of ensuring gun owners in need are looked after. The national conversation ping pongs back and forth between the firearms community and the medical field. The gun “problem” v. the mental health debate is happening, and regardless of realities, policy often gets made without the input of the people doing the heavy lifting. The founder and Executive Director of Hold My Guns, Sarah Joy Albrecht, recently held a virtual meeting, bringing many groups together to discuss coming up with a values statement and pooling their voices.

The groups that came together were not ones that usually specialize on policy or lobbying per se. All of them have their niche that they fulfill and their different mission statements. What they do have in common is the concern that their voices are not being heard when they should be heard. 

These folks are proponents of firearms safety, prevention of criminal violence, and suicide prevention. Do some of them lobby? Sure. Do some of them focus on policy? Sure. But there’s a common thread between them and rather universal ideals they all embrace.

All too often when there’s a national “conversation” on firearms, many of the smaller grassroots groups get looked over. By bringing several of such groups together, they’re better able to enter the arena.

I was invited to sit in on the meeting that was held February 26, 2024. While I was unable to catch the stream live, I was able to observe after the fact. I also got to have a nice chat with Albrecht, the organizer of the meeting, after it occurred.

Part of the goal is to “take a stand that our respective groups are serving the community without compromising rights,” Albrecht told me. “And, we are taking leadership to take matters into our own hands to elevate our missions, to collaborate, and serve our firearms community well, and to encourage others to do the same.”

Members from varying organizations or were acting as individuals that participated included people from The Liberal Gun Club, Kids SAFE Foundation, The Second is for Everyone, a former Top Shot contestant, Women for Gun Rights (formerly the DC Project), Walk the Talk America, The Well Armed Woman, FASTER Saves Lives, Team Fidelis, the Sentinel app, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, A Girl and a Gun, A Great Start Shooting School’s Suicide Prevention Saturday, Firearms Owners Against Crime Institute for Legal Legislative and Educational Action, Buckeye Firearms Foundation, The Trigger Pressers Union, Public Safety and Education, Meet the Pressers, (Links to all of these orgs at the end of this article).

The panel was a total who’s who of advocacy and activists in the gun owning community that cares about the mental wellbeing of gun owners, firearm safety, crime mitigation, and suicide prevention.

Albrecht welcomed everyone by telling them something that’s beyond important in my opinion. She completely hit the nail on the head:

“I want you to know that each and every one of you have been an encouragement to me, as well as the organizations that you represent. And I want to encourage you that you are doing work that truly is making a difference. A lot of times I think that people in the firearms community don’t get the recognition that they deserve for the good work that they’re doing. A lot of times the work that we do gets buried in mainstream media and things like that.”

Being drowned out by MSM as well as by highly funded and well organized groups – often in opposition to what we’ll call “gun rights” – is a motivating factor for bringing together the tribes. “Further, the MSM & “public health” gatekeeping bias prevents awareness and growth of these life-saving efforts…in other words blood is on their hands,” Albrecht further explained.

Words and phrases such as “suicide prevention”, “community”, “helping”, etc. were in the word pool of the conversation.

This is a group of firearm owners and industry leaders who actually care about salient solutions to issues that cannot just be legislated away. All too often policy is driven by bias and alleged “think tanks” who claim to be just aggregating the “data.” However these groups are pushing for and targeting very specific policies the people/entities that fund them want.

The business of so-called “gun violence” mitigation/prevention or “gun safety” research is a big one. Lots of “researchers” make money hand over fist for what amounts to a commissioned painting on order.

When it comes to everyone’s corner in this arena, one of the members of the meeting did observe that the people present are the experts in their fields. Not only are they the experts, they further have the benefit of being within the community that’s often being over regulated. 

This is in stark contrast to think tanks that produce bunk studies. The subject matter experts are available and are coming together to make sure the voices of the people actually doing the work get heard. 

One of the “buzzwords” that did come out during the meeting was so-called “credible messengers.” The thing about the groups that are crying for credible messengers to carry their messages is that rank and file supporters of the 2A are not going to carry water for groups that want to subvert our rights.

For example, if some doctor that runs a “gun violence” study group at a university – and there are many of them throughout the country – they don’t need credible messengers at all. The key is simple, they could be their own credible messengers. The minute they make an honest commitment that they will not support policy that infringes on the Second Amendment, they will be respected.

If a group is looking for a credible messenger, that’s because they themselves are not credible at all!

“Public health people telling firearms groups to be credible messengers are trying to force firearms organizations to compromise on rights in the name of being united in prevention,” Albrecht explained to me. “But, they don’t realize that this undermines the values of our community. Many of these public health groups support gun control legislation.”

One of the important messages that came through was from Dr. Robert Young. Dr. Young is from Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, and I don’t mind calling his important message out with him attached to it.

“The Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership was founded in 1984 in opposition to the nonsense and bad science of much of our profession’s leadership. There are people who think it’s in their lane to tell everybody that they should get rid of their guns. That’s not. We’re very good at recommending the good science and criticizing the bad science.”

Another thing agreed upon was that a unified set of points or message letter is to be created…a values statement and a logo. The points or letter will act as a primer for what the groups who are doing the boots on the ground work agree upon. 

The statement is probably going to highlight areas where they’re also not interested in getting involved. For example, based on preliminary talks, so-called “red flag” laws seem to be disfavored by everyone in the meeting – I could be wrong about that, but that’s the vibe I got.

The nature of this collection of activists is apolitical. This is not a group of the right or the left, nor are they seeking to adopt ideologies that aren’t defined by their main goals. Part of that is going to include pointing out to other activists or groups when they, their programming, or language is not serving the core values of Second Amendment preservation without alienation.

One of the points that was brought up about how this coalition may function had to do with roles. There are bigger organizations out there, which is why these groups have decided to bring their voices together, so they could be heard at the table with equal weight. The question is not what these organizations are going to do for bigger organizations, but rather how the larger ones can support them as an organized consortium.

Each person and organization that met brings to the table a wonderful set of experiences. Nearly every facet of gun ownership was represented. Yes, these groups as individuals or together can do plenty for the larger organizations, but they’re really going to need their support in order to engage in mutual servitude.

Board Member of Hold My Guns, Sharon WIlliston-Benadum talked about the importance of the combined goals of these groups. “As a mental health care professional and firearms instructor, it’s important for people to be able to see and recognize the person who is the gun owner, not just the gun,” Willison-Benadum told me. “Gun owners truly care about one another and act as a protective factor by checking in and providing a sense of community and support.”

Klint Macro, who represents several organizations, sent me the following comment about why being involved in this collaboration is important to him.

“Gun owners should feel safe while seeking out help if they are dealing with hardships. The general public needs to understand that there IS help available from within the 2A community to those that want it. ‘Help’ should not demonize the person for seeking it out. Red Flag Laws and Emergency Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) are easily weaponized and do nothing to help individuals who might need it. They only facilitate a negative stigma and FEAR to those that would otherwise seek out help on their own. There are counseling services and safe temporary storage options available to gun owners that do not cost a person their individual right to keep and bear arms. ALL solutions to problems in our Constitutional Republic can be found through education and the free exercise of our individual rights and Liberty.”

As of the publishing of this article, the official position statement of this group nor the name has become finalized. What we can attest to though is that these are determined individuals and organizations that will have a seat at the table. These are gun owners who care about gun owners and the national debate. We should be thankful that there are people doing yeoman’s work to preserve and protect our Second Amendment, as well as forge avenues for those who may need assistance. I’m looking forward to seeing what may come next.

Here’s a partial list of the partners involved:

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