Letter: Keeping Our Schools Safe
To the Editor:
On October 18th we observed National Safe Schools Week, but keeping children safe is a duty whichever week it is. It is our responsibility to provide them with safe environments at home, in school, and where they play. Safe kids at school begin with safe kids at home. The threat of gun violence is, sadly, ever-present. Just last week the entire Fairfield public school system was in lockdown because of a threatened school shooting.
Did you know that nationally, one out of three homes with children have guns, many left unlocked or loaded, and that 80 percent of unintentional gun deaths happen at home?
While many parents believe otherwise, nearly three-quarters of children under age 10 report knowing where their parents’ firearms are kept. Nearly half of teen suicide attempts involve guns, and tragically, more preschoolers are shot dead than police are killed in the line of fire. With the Oregon massacre still fresh in our minds, did you know that two-thirds of school shooters acquire the gun(s) they used from their home or that of a relative?
These facts are an important reminder that as parents and guardians, we must do everything we can to prevent child gun deaths and injuries. Parents can take steps starting now to ensure that their child and playmates do not come across an unsecured gun. When arranging a child’s visit to another home, the Asking Saves Kids Campaign urges parents to ASK, “Is there an unlocked gun in your house?” It may feel uncomfortable, but 19 million parents have made the commitment to do so for the safety of their children.
Please ensure that your child does not have access to guns by storing them securely. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents who choose to own guns should keep them locked, unloaded, and stored separately from ammunition. Connecticut law requires firearms to be securely stored in homes with minors.
The message of the ASK Campaign is one I hope parents take to heart. Please visit www.askingsaveskids.org to learn more about the program and pledge to always ASK before your child visits a friend, family member, or neighbor’s home.
The writer is president of the Southwestern Connecticut Brady Campaign chapter.