Crime

Know a woman who wants a gun? This Illinois man will give her one for free

Two of the four women who have received free shotguns from Help 50, according to Robert Bertrand. He says A&S Gunsmithing in Mt. Vernon is providing its services free, Bertrand says.
Two of the four women who have received free shotguns from Help 50, according to Robert Bertrand. He says A&S Gunsmithing in Mt. Vernon is providing its services free, Bertrand says. Provided photo

A Mt. Vernon man is giving away free guns to those who meet his requirements: pass the “babysitter test,” have a FOID card and be a woman.

Robert Bertrand started Help 50 to give interested women a pump-action shotgun after a background check.

“Especially in Mt. Vernon, some areas are kind of rough. A lot of people are worried about burglars in the middle of the night,” Bertrand told the BND.

Bertrand, who says he’s “not a gun person,” partly modeled the program after a now-defunct program in Texas. He says those women interested in a free gun must pass a background check, must possess a valid Firearm Owners Identification and be someone he would trust with his own child, or what he calls “the babysitter test.”

And why only women?

“I’m not giving them to guys, because they always ask for guns,” Bertrand said.

As of Tuesday, Help 50 has given four women each a 20-guage H&R pump compact and has another 30 interested. The four women include a single mother and a nurse. They will get NRA-certified safety training in October, he said.

The website at www.help50.org/ takes donations, but is not a registered not-for-profit.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535, @MaryCooleyBND
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