In Previous Dear Abby Column, Columnist Advised a Mom that It Would Be ‘Off-Putting’ to Ask a Playmate’s Parents if they Owned Guns and if They Were Responsibly Stored
NEW YORK – Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement today applauding columnist Dear Abby for recanting her initial advice that it would be “off-putting” for a concerned mom to ask the parents of her child’s playmates whether they kept guns in the home and stored them responsibly. The column, which drew widespread criticism from concerned parents and readers, was published on National ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day, sponsored by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Dear Abby’s change of heart came after a survivor of gun violence, Julvonnia McDowell, wrote a heartfelt open letter to Dear Abby recounting how her 14-year-old son, JaJuan, was shot and killed by another teen playing with a gun on April 7, 2016, while visiting family in Savannah for spring break. Within 24 hours, more than 1,000 people added their names to McDowell’s letter. Additionally, Moms Demand Action volunteers wrote letters to the editor about the importance of keeping children safe from unsecured firearms in papers across the country, including in Illinois, Oklahoma, New York and Texas.
STATEMENT FROM SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA:
“Moms Demand Action volunteers are grateful that Dear Abby listened to concerns raised by gun violence survivors and other advocates who know asking about responsible gun storage when we send our children into others’ homes and vehicles is a matter of life and death. Unintentional shootings by children are not accidents, they are preventable tragedies. Just as we would ask about whether a pool is fenced or if a child with a peanut allergy will be exposed to peanuts, making sure guns are locked, unloaded and stored separately from ammunition is a simple, critical question that saves lives.”
STATEMENT FROM JULVONNIA McDOWELL, MEMBER OF THE EVERYTOWN SURVIVOR NETWORK WHOSE 14-YEAR-OLD SON, JAJUAN, WAS SHOT AND KILLED BY ANOTHER TEEN PLAYING WITH A GUN WHILE VISITING FAMILY ON SPRING BREAK:
“I am grateful that Dear Abby took the story of my son JaJuan’s senseless death to heart and reconsidered her viewpoint. Nothing will bring my beloved son back, but Dear Abby’s words will help more parents understand how important it is to ask the right questions to keep their sons and daughters safe. I pray that more families will be spared the heartbreak I live with every day.”
Moms Demand Action promotes responsible gun storage through its Be SMART program, which is aimed at reducing deaths and injuries that result when children gain access to unsecured guns. Be SMART encourages parents and all adults to Secure guns in homes and vehicles, Model responsible behavior around guns, Ask about the presence of guns in other homes, Recognize the risks of teen suicide and Tell your peers to Be SMART. Since the program’s inception in 2015, volunteers have delivered the Be SMART message at nearly 1,200 community events in 37 states. For more information, visit BeSMARTforKids.org