Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Secure guns, protect children

It is so easy to keep a firearm out of the hands of children. And yet loaded guns keep falling into the hands of young children in our city, often with tragic consequences. Chief Darryl Forté addressed that on this blog last December

If you have a gun in your home, it is imperative that it is stored safely. If you do not have a safe in which to keep your firearm, you can get a free gun lock with no questions asked at any of our six patrol stations, Children’s Mercy Hospital, from anti-crime groups and at a number of other locations. Our officers have even passed these out in areas where children have been shot accidentally. These locks can be installed in less than 15 seconds, as demonstrated by Captain Ryan Mills for KSHB reporter Sarah Plake.

Gun locks are just a start. Adults should not leave guns lying around in areas accessible to children. They should sit down with their kids to discuss firearm safety and the dangers guns can pose. Every officer on this department has undergone extensive and continuous firearm safety training. I’d wager all of them who have children at home have gone to great lengths to store their guns securely and have had discussions about gun safety. I know I did when my kids were younger.

And as we come up on the Fourth of July holiday, the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and I implore you to refrain from celebratory gunfire. Bullets fired into the air come down, damaging property and injuring or killing people. As you saw on the aforementioned blog from Chief Forté, a 16-year-old was struck by celebratory gunfire last July 4th. And this year, the parents of Blair Shanahan Lane, an 11-year-old girl killed by celebratory gunfire in 2011, are once again going door-to-door with our officers in neighborhoods where our ShotSpotter system detected high levels of gunfire on Independence Day last year. Blair’s parents will tell their story of loss and how easily the tragedy could have been prevented. In the neighborhoods they visited in 2016, July 4th gunfire dropped by 100 percent from the same day in 2015, according to ShotSpotter.

There are many shootings that are difficult to predict and prevent. Accidental shootings by and of children are not. Very simple steps will stop the vast majority of these tragedies.

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