Be SMART: Step Three - Ask about unsecured guns in other homes
by the Rev. Mary Haggerty,
Diocesan Missioner for Gun Violence Prevention
October 16, 2023
The third step in the Be SMART program is “A” Ask About Unsecured Guns in Other Homes. There are approximately 4.6 million U.S. children living in a household with at least one loaded, unlocked gun. That’s why you need to Ask about firearms in other homes your child visits.
When our children visit other homes, we often ask about allergens, pets, or car seats for rides - things to keep our kids safe. We need to normalize asking about unsecured guns. Asking about guns in the home should be as natural as asking about any other safety issue. If it seems awkward at first, try making it part of your general safety conversation. You might try asking via email or text if you’re uncomfortable at first.
Many unintentional shootings happen in the homes of relatives. It’s very possible that family members or close friends have unsecured guns in their home. Never make assumptions when a child’s safety is at stake.
A sample conversation could go like this: “Hi Mom, we are looking forward to Thanksgiving with the whole family — the kids are so excited to see you and their cousins. I know I have never asked this before, but after reading about a 9-year old boy in Detroit that shot himself with an unsecured shotgun, I just have to ask: Are your guns locked, unloaded and is the ammunition stored separately? Tommy and Ellie get into everything and I don’t want to spend the holidays looking over my shoulder worried about them, or the rest of the kids. I’m happy to purchase gun locks if you don’t have them.”