Yesterday, a 16-year-old unintentionally shot and killed himself using a gun that was “unloaded and kept in a family member’s closet along with a second gun,” according to the Portland Press Herald. As the #NotAnAccident Index shows, this is at least the sixth unintentional shooting by a child or teen in Maine since 2015.
This shooting is a tragic reminder that unsecured guns can have deadly consequences, especially for children and teens. Approximately 4.6 million children live in a household with at least one gun that is stored loaded and unlocked. With millions of children and teens home from school and gun sales surging during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever for adults to keep guns out of the hands of kids.
Research shows the best way to prevent unintentional shootings by young people is to secure guns. Volunteers with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action have prioritized the Be SMART program in their communities to reduce the number of child firearm deaths and injuries that occur when guns are not stored securely. In the past year, volunteers have written letters to the editor and partnered with the Cape Elizabeth Police Department to increase awareness about the importance of secure storage.
The program asks parents and caretakers, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, to ‘Be SMART’ and take these simple steps:
- Secure All Guns In Homes And Vehicles
- Model Responsible Behavior
- Ask About Firearms In Other Homes Your Child Visits
- Recognize The Role Of Guns In Suicide
- Tell Your Peers To Be SMART
If you have any questions, or would like to speak to a volunteer with Maine Moms Demand Action about the Be SMART program, please don’t hesitate to reach out.