After the Webinar: Advocacy for Firearm Awareness and Risk (part 1). Q&A with Dr. Elizabeth Gray

Webinar presenter Dr. Elizabeth Gray answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Advocacy for Firearm Awareness and Risk (AFAR): Improving Victim Advocate Response: Rationale and Understanding Laws (Part 1). Here are just a few of her responses.


Audience Question: If we don’t own guns ourselves, or maybe we’d never even handled a gun in real life, what are some ways that we can get more comfortable even talking about guns? 

Elizabeth “Gizzy” Gray: That’s such a great question. One of the ways that I recommend is that you just develop it and think about that skill as a piece of cultural competency. We know firearm owners have their own culture. We call it, gun culture, or firearm culture. And I encourage you to think about the challenge in our country about how firearms are politicized. And I encourage you to reject the politicization of firearms and think about what it is you need to know for your clients and your victims. If you reach out and say to anybody in your CCR, how do I learn about this? They might have some ideas in which they’re connected to the local gun club, which could give you a course on how do I take apart a weapon so that I can encourage somebody to take the pin, or to use a safe, or to use a trigger lock, and yet you wouldn’t know to ask those questions if you didn’t understand how a firearm was put together or that you’ve had some training. And, so, it’s really about approaching this as I need to be culturally competent to what my clients have or who they are as well. I think when in other trainings where we frame that in which it is a cultural competency question, it opens up a pathway to learn, because now, you know, you need to learn something. And it’s appropriate to learn because it’s going to save people’s lives.


Audience Question: Should our approach with a victim be different if their spouse is military or in law enforcement? 

Elizabeth “Gizzy” Gray: So, we’re going to really talk about that in the next section. And I don’t mind answering it all, but it really comes down to what is your privilege, and what is the risks to the client. Sometimes it is our impression that we, as the advocate know more, and that is not true. We have to let our victims remain the center of their power and their control, and that they are the experts in their situation. They are going to know what is unsafe about firearm storage in that conversation. So, they’re going to know if they can bring that up. They’re going to know when it’s going to be a trigger. They’re going to know when it’s going to be if we talk about firearms or the removal of firearms when that may cause or create more stress or trauma. And so, we have to be able to listen to our victims to say, what can we talk about? One of the ways we talked about firearms is temporary removal and temporary ways to restrict. Outside of losing somebody’s second amendment rights, all of those conversations should include the word temporary. We tend to have conversations that are black and white. We talk about removal when really, it’s about the temporary storage, and temporary restrictions. And that’s really important to help somebody maintain their second amendment rights, versus getting into a second amendment debate. And that’s really the next piece of this conversation because it’s such a great question about how do I do this in a way that’s it’s trauma-informed, it’s victim-centered, and it’s really respectful of who our victims are, and where they live. I have to tell you I really, truly am a pacifist, and I talk about firearms. If I can do it, you can do it.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Advocacy for Firearm Awareness and Risk (AFAR): Improving Victim Advocate Response: Rationale and Understanding Laws (Part 1)



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