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Let’s all do our part to keep guns out of the hands of children | READER COMMENTARY

A gun safe with a photo of Ethan Song sits in the front row during the signing of Ethan's Law at the Guilford Fire Department in Guilford, Conn. last year. The statewide Ethan's Law mandated safe storage of firearms in houses with children. DANIEL SHULAR | dshular@courant.com
A gun safe with a photo of Ethan Song sits in the front row during the signing of Ethan's Law at the Guilford Fire Department in Guilford, Conn. last year. The statewide Ethan's Law mandated safe storage of firearms in houses with children. DANIEL SHULAR | dshular@courant.com (Daniel Shular / Hartford Courant)

I was gratified and happy to read the commentary by Katherine Hoops and Cassandra Crisfasi regarding safe gun storage (“Safe gun storage is crucial as children are at home during the pandemic,” June 15). I have been privileged to work with Ms. Hoops to promote this important message to parents and caregivers as the Be SMART lead for Howard County along with Kim Davis, the Be SMART lead for Baltimore.

An estimated 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a household with at least one gun that is stored loaded and unlocked. With the recent increase in gun purchases here in Maryland and around the country since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has likely grown substantially. It’s up to as adults to make sure guns are securely stored so that curious children and vulnerable teens cannot get hold of them while home from school.

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Parents have a lot to juggle as we deal with school closures and increased precautions around COVID-19 that affect us all. But we cannot wait for another completely preventable, unintentional shooting by a child or a teen dying by gun suicide to be a wake-up call. We all need to take action now. The Be SMART program works to keep unsecured guns out of the hands of children and teens. We encourage parents and caretakers to “Be SMART” and take these simple steps to help prevent unintentional shootings: Secure all guns in homes and vehicles, model responsible behavior around guns, ask about the presence of firearms in other homes your child visits, recognize the role of guns in suicide, and tell your peers to Be SMART.

Let’s all do our part to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them including our children and vulnerable populations. For more information about the Be SMART program, please visit www.besmartforkids.org.

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Lisa Siano, Columbia

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