By Jane Hedeen
As the horrifying details of the shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut emerged on December 14, 2012, I sat, hand clapped over my mouth, devastated.
Sandy Hook catapulted me into the gun violence prevention movement. I started volunteering for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and learning more about gun violence.
Often, people ask if I or a loved one have been affected by gun violence. While the answer is “no,” I’m not naive enough to think that it can’t happen to my family. My daughter will enter first grade this fall; the same grade as the Sandy Hook children. That stops me in my tracks.
More than two million American children live in homes with guns that are not securely stored. I won’t accept that. I advocate for better laws to help keep kids safe in their classrooms, but I have learned that here is something immediate I can do to protect children at home.
Unintentional shootings, which occur when children access an unsecured weapon, are particularly senseless. A child’s home should be a place of safety and sanctuary, not one fraught with danger because of unsecured weapons. So far this year, seven unintentional shootings in Indiana have resulted in fives deaths and two injuries. These were all entirely preventable.
That’s why Moms Demand Action developed the BeSMART program. BeSMART outlines actions everyone — gun owners or non-gun owners — can take to keep our homes safe havens. In order to save lives, we must Be SMART:
S: Secure guns in homes (and vehicles) by locking them up and storing ammunition separately. Free gun locks are available through the BeSMART program or, often, your local police department.
M: Model responsible behavior around guns. Make an informed decision about gun ownership and ensure all adult members of the household are willing to become trained and practice safe storage and handling.
A: Ask about unsecured guns anywhere your children play. Don’t assume that even trusted friends and relatives practice safe storage. www.besmartforkids.org offers tips on having this conversation.
R: Recognize the risks of teen suicide. Teens are impulsive and suicide attempts with guns result in death 85% of the time. Read more about warning signs and risk factors.
T: Tell your peers to BeSMART. Share the concrete things we can do in our own homes and through respectful conversations with others to keep kids safe.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a grassroots, non-partisan organization that advocates for common-sense gun legislation, such as universal background checks for all gun sales. The group encompasses gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and believes that the Second Amendment can coexist with common sense laws to keep us all safer. For more information, visit www.momsdemandaction.org.