Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Keep Kids Safe With Be SMART

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Keep Kids Safe With Be SMART

As children are spending more time at home during the holidays, there are simple steps adults can take to prevent unintentional and self-inflicted gun violence. The Be SMART guidelines can be used by parents, caretakers, gun owners, and non-gun owners by taking the following steps:

  • Secure guns in homes and vehicles

  • Model responsible behavior

  • Ask about unsecured guns in other homes

  • Recognize the risks of teen suicide

  • Tell your peers to be SMART

A child discharges an unsecured gun, accidentally harming or killing someone every 34 hours in the United States. In Virginia during 2017, there have been four injuries and two deaths from children under 17 unintentionally discharging a weapon. As a parent of two young children, I have incorporated asking about firearms in the home before play dates, just as I would discuss food allergies or other safety concerns. Kids are curious and it is our job as adults to protect them from gaining access to guns with safe storage.

Additionally, at least one child takes their own life every day in America, resulting in over 500 suicides from guns — 90 percent of suicide attempts using guns are fatal, and preventing access to a firearm can easily prevent these tragedies. U.S. children are 11 times more likely than their peers in other nations to die by gun suicide, but they’re no more likely to die by any other suicide method.

Visit beSMARTforkids.org for more information on how to keep our kids safer.

Ashley Misitzis