By Elizabeth Pickering
Every year, nearly 350 children living in America under the age of 18 gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else. Between March and December of 2020, there was a more than 30 percent increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children of themselves or others, compared to the same time in 2019.This is an issue we all need to worry about―whether it’s your gun or not, it could be your child. As adults, we’re responsible for keeping our children safe. That’s why it is crucial for us to ask other adults if they own guns and how they’re stored when our children visit their homes.
An overwhelming majority of unintentional shootings by children could have been prevented with secure storage. Unloaded firearms should be secured with a firearm locking device, such as a jacket or cable lock, or in a locked location, like a safe or lock box. Ammunition should be stored separately from the firearm in a secure location.
To address this safety issue, Moms Demand Action volunteers advocate for the BeSMART program to reduce the number of child firearm deaths that occur when guns are not stored securely.
Parents and caretakers, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, ‘Be SMART’ and take these simple steps:
Secure all guns in homes and vehicles
Model responsible behavior
Ask about firearms in other homes your child visits
Recognize the role of guns in suicide
Tell your peers to Be SMART
BeSMARTforKids.org is the one-stop site for secure storage information, how to get involved in the effort, and for additional resources on preventing child access to guns.
Elizabeth Pickering is a mom, wife of a PVSchools teacher, Moms Demand Action volunteer and Desert Ridge neighbor.