By Melissa Wharton
KCPD and Moms Demand Action (MDA) teamed up Wednesday afternoon at the North-East Branch library to host a presentation about gun safety.
East Patrol Community Interaction Officer Greg Smith brought guides to gun safety, as well as gun locks to hand out to those in attendance. Smith gave a demonstration on how to properly secure a gun with a lock. He stressed the importance of practicing safe gun habits.
“We’ve had several children injured or (who) lost their lives by getting a hold of weapons,” Smith said. “We had one here just a few days ago, and there was one in St. Louis just this weekend where a 5-year-old got hold of a gun, accidentally fired it and killed the dad. We don’t want anyone losing their lives.”
MDA volunteer Andrea Kimball gave a presentation on practicing gun safety by following the SMART plan, which is an acronym for: Secure guns, Model responsible behavior, Ask about guns in other homes, Recognize the risks of teen suicide, and Tell your peers to be SMART.
“What this program is not, is it is not political in any way,” Kimball said. “It is not anti-gun. It is not about gun control or reform, or anything with respect to laws or politics. What it’s about is that kids have a right to grow up happy and healthy, and we all have a right to make responsible decisions about gun ownership.”
Kimball said she has two young children and is a gun owner. She got involved with MDA after the Sandy Hook School shooting because she wanted to increase the public’s awareness of how to safely handle firearms, even if the conversation is hard to have.
“Ask families whose homes your children visit whether they have guns, and how they’re secured,” Kimball said. “When you send a kid off to a play date, you ask ahead of time whether they have dogs or a pool or other safety issues. If they say yes they have a gun in the home, like I respond when I am asked, I then volunteer that the gun is locked, it is unloaded, and the ammunition is stored separately. It can be an awkward conversation, but once you get that out you can move forward.”
The information Kimball presented focused on accidental gun-related deaths as well as suicides, but Smith also spoke to the prevalence of gun-related homicides.
“Most of the homicides, I would say it’s safe to say almost 96% are involved with handguns,” Smith said. “That’s not how you solve issues. Call us. We can get conflict resolution there and some mediation in and try to help get the situation calm and people thinking differently, and not so much with retaliation and violence with guns.”
To learn more about MDA’s recommendations for safe firearm practices, visit www.besmartforkids.com. You can contact your local police division station to see about obtaining free gun locks.