As gun sales and gun violence have increased over the last year, so have unintentional shootings by children. Moms Demand Action volunteers around the country have been working to raise awareness and prevent more unintentional shootings by educating their communities with Everytown’s Be SMART program — a program designed to help parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries.
During the pandemic, unintentional shootings by children have increased significantly. Between March and December of 2020, there was a 31 percent increase in unintentional shooting deaths by children and an 18 percent increase in unintentional injuries, compared to the same time period in 2019.
According to Everytown’s #NotAnAccident Index, there have been nearly 200 unintentional shootings by children in 2021 alone. Research shows that to protect children and teens, gun owners should store guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition. To combat this tragic rise in unintentional shootings, Moms Demand Action volunteers across the country worked to get the message out about the importance of secure storage of firearms in partnership with schools and teachers to amplify the voices of responsible gun owners and the secure storage practices they, along with experts, recommend. The innovative steps volunteers have taken include:
- In Oregon, volunteers advocated for Be SMART information to be placed on the Portland Public Schools websites for the coming school year, and Be SMART postcards will be distributed to all teachers in the district.
- In Maine, volunteers presented about the Be SMART program to over 100 pediatricians at the University of New England. Volunteers have also worked to bring Be SMART to in-home social workers that work in rural Maine counties.
- In Nebraska, volunteers handed out Be SMART materials with local partners at the YouTurn End of School drive-thru community event.
- In Indiana, Be SMART volunteers partnered with the sheriff and prosecutor in Indianapolis to co-brand materials to distribute at the sheriff’s office, at public events, and in local libraries.
- In South Carolina, Be SMART volunteers worked with Charleston County Public Schools to distribute gun locks to school nurses across the district.
- In Colorado, Be SMART volunteers created chalk sidewalk art during a Colorado Springs community event, calling the community’s attention to the program.
- In Missouri, volunteers set up Be SMART placards at a traveling memorial that represented 46 children killed by gun violence in 2020.
For more information on the Be SMART program and how to secure your firearms, visit the Be SMART website. Additional information about unintentional shootings is here. If you are interested in speaking with a policy or research expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out.