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We Keep Receipts

The Gun Shop Owner

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Janyce Demers, Rick Castillo and Ralph Demicco share an unfortunate bond.

They have all felt suicide hit close to home.

Demers’ son Zachary used a gun to take his own life when he was just 23.

“At that moment, we became members of a club we never wanted to join,” she says. “Our whole lives just changed. There was the day before and the day after.”

Castillo’s son Gregory died by suicide with a handgun the day before his 24th birthday.

Gregory Castillo was one of three people in just five days to take their own lives shortly after a purchasing a gun from Riley’s Sport Shop in New Hampshire, a shop owned by Ralph Demicco at the time.

After the string of suicides in 2009, Demicco and Elaine Frank, co-chair of the New Hampshire Firearm Safety Coalition, started the Gun Shop Project. The project is a campaign to prevent gun suicides.

Nearly 40,000 people per year die by suicide in the United States, half of them by using a firearm, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“The goal of Gun Shop Project is twofold,” says Frank. “One is to engage gun shop owners in adding suicide prevention to the things that they screen for on a regular basis when making a sale -- to try and prevent selling a gun to someone who is actively suicidal.”

“The second -- and just as important -- part of the project is to utilize gun shops as a place to educate customers on the tie in between suicide and firearms and to try and engage them in holding on to guns when someone they are close to is at risk for suicide.”

Frank and Demicco support gun rights, and they believe their program is working to get gun advocates involved in suicide prevention.

“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


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