This week, the Alaska House State Affairs Committee held a hearing on HB 203, bipartisan legislation which would require that gun owners securely store their firearms when not under their direct control. HB 203 would ensure guns are secured away from children and help prevent school shootings, gun suicides, and unintentional shootings by children.
The hearing comes just as several Alaska schools have reported students bringing and shooting BB guns on campus as part of a TikTok challenge. This trend creates a dangerous precedent of normalizing access to weapons for children and teens and highlights the urgent need to keep firearms out of the reach of kids. The TikTok challenge was denounced by Anchorage School District Superintendent, Deena Bishop, in a letter to parents. Bishop said, “It’s incumbent for parents to ensure their students do not bring any weapon — real, non-lethal or fake — to school grounds or on buses.”
Moms Demand Action volunteers have been supporting secure storage measures and raising awareness about the importance of this legislation alongside with other partners such as faith organizations, medical associations, and several other stakeholders, including the Alaska Behavioral Health Association, Alaska Children’s Trust, Alaska Native Brotherhood – Alaska Native Sisterhood, Grand Camp, Alaska Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Alaska Chapter, Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc., and the League of Women Voters of Alaska.
More about secure storage in Alaska:
- Storing firearms securely can save lives and prevent unauthorized firearm access by children and other people who pose a risk to themselves or others. Passing a secure firearm storage law in Alaska will help promote secure storage practices by requiring that gun owners securely store their firearms when they are not in use.
- Alaska has the 2nd highest rate of gun deaths in the country, the 2nd highest rate of unintentional shootings by children, and firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens in the state, with an average of 22 firearm deaths every year. 59 percent of those deaths are firearm suicides.
- A 2019 study estimated that if half of households with children switched from leaving their guns unlocked to securely storing them all locked, one-third of youth gun suicides and unintentional deaths could be prevented – saving an estimated 251 lives in a single year. Another study found that households that locked both firearms and ammunition were associated with a 78 percent lower risk of self-inflicted firearm injuries and an 85 percent lower risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children, compared to those that locked neither.
More information about gun violence in Alaska is available here. If you are interested in learning more about their work, volunteers with the Alaska chapter of Moms Demand Action are available for interviews on this life-saving bill.