Be SMART: A new campaign for gun safety
by the Rev. Mary Haggerty,
Diocesan Missioner for Gun Violence Prevention
September 25, 2023
The facts about children and guns in our country are staggering. Did you know…?
- Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens (ages 1 to 19) in the United States.
- Over the past decade, the firearm suicide rate among children and teens has increased by 66 percent.
- Approximately three million American children witness gun violence every year.
- 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked.
Our children deserve better.
In the Diocese of Missouri we are committed to work to prevent child firearm tragedies. It is our responsibility as adults to keep children safe from accessing guns. Every adult can play a role in keeping our kids and communities safe by learning how to promote responsible gun ownership.
The diocesan Gun Violence Prevention ministry is planning to offer the Be SMART curriculum to parishes across the diocese, beginning in January 2024. Be SMART is a public awareness campaign focusing on education and awareness about child gun deaths and secure gun storage. The Be SMART program encourages parents and caretakers to “Be SMART” and take these five simple steps to help prevent shootings by and of children:
- Secure all guns in your home and vehicles;
- Model responsible behavior around guns;
- Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes;
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide;
- Tell your peers to be SMART.
Diocesan volunteers are currently training to give a 20 minute Be SMART presentation to your church, adult formation, children’s formation, or any other group in your parish or wider community. More information will be available at Diocesan Convention on November 3 and 4, as well as an opportunity to sign up to host a presentation. Our hope is to have all of the worshiping communities in the Diocese of Missouri trained in Be SMART principles by the end of 2024.
To learn more about Be SMART, go to https://besmartforkids.org/. Watch for more information in the weekly Proclaim newsletters and on our website throughout October, leading up to convention.
 Source: Everytown Research and Policy, everystat.org.