Oak Tree Gun Club held their Summer Safety Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) Fair on Saturday.
The event featured a variety of booths, presentations and programs all focalized around the themes of gun safety. An underlying theme for many of the safety activities was mental health and suicide, according to Betsy James, one of the event organizers and chief operating officer for Oak Tree Gun Club.
“Firearms being the most lethal means in suicide, it kind of made sense for us to foray into that opportunity in order to learn more about some of the issues that are happening in Santa Clarita,” said James, “to help educate some of the people in the mental health space about issues in the firearms community.”
During the event, those in attendance or just walking by on their way to the various gun ranges could visit booths hosted by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the California Highway Patrol, the Child and Family Center, Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, College of the Canyons, Superior Life Support and the Boy Scouts of America.
“We had the opportunity to partner with Larry Schallert from College of the Canyons, their Health and Awareness along with some other members of the local community to bring awareness about suicide and other mental health issues in our society,” said James. “It was also important for me, as an employer in this industry, to provide resources to my staff, because if there were to be an issue that would occur.”
James also said it was important for her, as an employer in the firearms industry, to provide resources to her staff, because if there were to be an issue that would occur, there’s very little training available to them as firearms dealers and range operators.
In addition to the booths, those in attendance could take training in suicide prevention and intervention response or take a firearm safety courses. There was also a film called “Be The Difference” and mental health awareness panel with both working to spread information about and discuss suicide and firearms.
“Basically, Oak Tree and Betsy have invited us out here … because its a way for the youth to get out of the house, to go out and do things that they’re not actually able to do,” said Bob Sparks, assistant scoutmaster.
“Firearms are the number one cause of suicides in the United States,” said Dr. Susan Igdaloff, a mental health expert who was also one of the speakers during the event. “And while this is a gun club, they’re promoting gun safety and recognize that there is a problem. They want to play a proactive role in reducing deaths and promoting safety and mental well being.”
Over the course of the day, four sessions of the “Eddie Eagle” program were offered, which offered attendees safety tips concerning children and firearms. There was also first aid training seminars available as well, according to James.
For more information about upcoming events and safety training courses at Oak Tree Gun Club, visit their website at www.oaktreegunclub.com.