On Nov. 6, there will be an advisory referendum on safe gun storage on the last page of the ballot. I hope you’ll vote Yes. 

Because gun owners contend that they keep guns in their homes as a safety measure for themselves and their families, I ask that you carefully consider the cost/benefit ratio of gun ownership when they are not safely stored. Relevant facts are that, every day, 78 children, teens and young adults are injured or killed by guns in the United States. About one-third of homes with children in the U.S. have a gun. Many are stored loaded and/or unlocked. 

Obviously this risk extends to playmates, friends, grandchildren, et al visiting the home. I refer you to numerous news accounts of tragic events such as the toddler who found his mother’s gun and fatally shot his 2-year-old brother in Colorado; the Seattle third-grader who brought his parent’s gun to school in his backpack and a classmate was shot when the backpack fell to the floor; the mother killed when her toddler in the back seat of her boyfriend’s car found and fired a gun in Milwaukee and other incidents too numerous to recount. 

The risk of dying by suicide is 4 to 10 times higher in homes with guns. For this reason the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that the safest home for children and teens is one without guns. If you have a teen who is at risk, AAP recommends you remove guns and ammunition from your home. 

If your ethic extends beyond consideration of the safety of your own family, consider that stolen handguns from homes is an important source of firearms to those not authorized to own them. Those guns are frequently involved in subsequent crime. 

So the issue is: does owning a gun/keeping a gun in your home make you and your family safe? Is it possible that the safest decision is, if not to eliminate the gun, at the very least, to store it safely?

Sandra Shimon

A member of Gun Responsibility Advocates, Oak Park

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