Dear Editor,
Central Indiana has recently seen a rash of children getting ahold of unsecured guns and injuring themselves or someone else. Thursday in Mooresville, a two-year-old gained access to his mother’s unsecured gun and unintentionally shot and killed himself — please note I said “unintentionally” and not “accidentally.” These incidents are not accidents. They are preventable and it is up to us as adults to keep our kids safe.
According to a 2015 survey that appeared in the Journal of Urban Health, about 13 million U.S. households with kids under 18 have at least one gun, and of those 13 million, approximately 4.6 million, or around 35%, of those homes have at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. Around 350 kids gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else each year in the U.S.
Unsecured guns also play a large role in youth suicide. 500 kids die by suicide with a gun each year in the U.S. and the Indiana Department of Health ranks Indiana as tenth in the nation for youth suicide attempts and first in the nation for youth suicide ideation.
As responsible parents, we are careful to install car seats to specifications, we anchor furniture to our walls, we build fences around our pools and make sure medication has child proof caps - we need to look at guns the same way and lock them up.
Be SMART for Kids is a program designed by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America that follows the SMART framework:
? S - Secure all guns in your home and vehicles
? M - Model responsible behavior around guns
? A - Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
? R - Recognize the role of guns in suicide
? T - Tell your peers to Be SMART
These are simple steps all adults can all take to keep our families safe by making sure guns are responsibly stored and asking about the presence of guns when our kids visit other homes. Be SMART provides adults with ways to have productive non-invasive conversations about unsecured guns. The more we talk about this subject with peers, the more we normalize it, just like when we talk about our kids’ allergies, the safer our communities become.
While it is important to teach our kids to stay away from guns, we know the stakes are too high to rely on curious, impulsive kids to keep themselves safe. The onus is on US as adults to keep them safe.
Please, if you have an unsecured gun and kids in your house, or even kids that visit you, get a cable gun lock or gun safe today. If you are unable to afford a lock or safe, most police departments have free cable locks to hand out. If you are in Indianapolis, all Indianapolis Public Library branches hand them out for free as well.
Remember, this is not a helpless situation with no answer. We as adults can help to prevent these tragedies.
Please visit BeSMARTforKids.org for more information.
Tricia Owens
Be SMART for Kids Indiana Lead
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Noblesville