Questions about Removing Firearms

Lethal Means: Questions about Removing Firearms (word)

“The risk of suicide is five times greater if a firearm is in the house,

even if the firearm is locked up.”

A lethal weapon available to a person in the depths of despair can end a life in an instant! Removing lethal means from the environment of a vulnerable person can save a life. Suicidal feelings are not permanent, they come and go. If the means is not immediately available to a suicidal person, chances are they will not attempt by another method, especially if they get connected to helping resources. Because about half of all suicides in Maine are completed with a firearm, this information is provided to help safely remove firearms from the environment of someone you are concerned about.

Who Can Help Dispose Of A Firearm?

  • First, call your local police department, sheriff or the state police.
  • Identify yourself and explain your concern.
  • Ask for the Officer on Duty and arrange with the Officer a time and location for him/her to pick up the firearm.
  • Do not bring the firearm to the police department, unless told to by the Officer on Duty.

Does The Firearm Need To Be Ready To Go In A Certain Way?

  • If you know how to safely unload the firearm, unload it.
  • If you do not know how to unload the firearm, tell the Officer before he/she arrives to pick it up.
  • If the Officer asks you to bring the firearm to the police station, explain who will bring it, what the person looks like and the time the person will arrive.

What Happens To The Firearm?

  • The gun owner and the Officer will complete some paperwork.
  • The police department will safely store the firearm.
  • If desired, the firearm will be returned at a later date at the request of the owner.

What If The Gun Owner Does Not Want To Involve Law Enforcement in the Disposal of the Firearm?

  • Remove the firearm from the house and store it elsewhere where it cannot be accessed by the person at risk.
  • Lock the unloaded firearm in a gun safe or storage box. Trigger locks are sold in sporting goods stores and where firearms are sold. Some police departments offer free locks. Be sure the keys and storage box combinations are kept away from the person at risk.
  • Do not place the firearm in a bank safe deposit box. Most states have laws that prohibit carrying a weapon into federally insured buildings such as banks.
  • Sell the firearm following the appropriate legal guidelines.

What if a Family Member of a Suicidal Person has to Carry a Firearm as Part of his/her Job?

  • Remove all the firearms from the environment except the one required for work. The person responsible for the firearm must keep it in his/her possession.
  • Remember: Using locking devices or locked storage does not guarantee absolute safety, but does present a barrier to an impulsive act.

For More Information on Suicide Prevention:

  • If you are concerned about a loved one or friend, call the Statewide Crisis Hotline at 1-888-568-1112.
  • To learn about Maine’s Suicide Prevention Program, go to our website at:
  • To receive materials, call the Statewide Information and Resource Center at 1-800-499-0027 or email

Updated November 2011