Let’s begin with the PSA – both funny then shocking at the very end. It shows a young boy running into the kitchen, trying to grab a box of cereal and grabs a box of rat poison instead; then a baby lurches towards the stairs and the gate has barbed wire on top; a young infant crawls towards a fearsome-looking animal trap, and as a young girl is almost attacked by a crazed dog the voice-over says, “You wouldn’t allow any of these other risks in your home,” while a young boy opens up a drawer and yanks out a pistol, “why allow an unlocked gun?”
The artfully-produced PSA is featured on a new website from the Brady Campaign which is built around the idea that a gun that isn’t safely stored in the home is a serious risk. And the risks of letting kids get their hands on guns are explained in a series of basic statements – 15 Truths About Kids and Guns – each of which can be easily tweeted or pushed onto your Facebook page. The statements cover such topics as the link between lack of safe storage and gun injuries, high rates of gun ownership and high rates of child gun deaths, none of these or other statements being new news. But what is new is that at the bottom of this page you can download a very detailed discussion of each of these issues, a document that is comprehensive and detailed both in content and scope. Well done, Brady, well done.
The website is robust, full of content, works exceptionally well and can be shared to your personal social media platform for friends and a wider digital audience. There’s also a section of Fast Facts of which I want to mention one in particular, and that’s the pages devoted to the most difficult of all subjects to discuss, namely, the issue of suicide and how to create a suicide-proof home. This page links to another web initiative from Brady that is a partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health.
If I had a nickel for every time that a pro-gun advocate objected to the idea that using a gun to commit suicide is an act of gun violence, I’d be out on the first tee every day instead of only once or twice a week. So let’s end this stupid argument right here and now by quoting a pretty good authority on the definition of violence, which happens to be the WHO. The World Health Organization defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community,” which pretty much sums it up for me. And in 2014 the intentional use of force against oneself in which the type of force was a gun claimed 21,334 lives, of whom nearly 1,000 were kids under the age of 18.
I can understand why Brady would want to launch a gun safety initiative that focuses on kids, and this site brings together just about all the credible data on gun injuries involving children and teens. The site is aimed at parents, giving them specific information on safe storage devices, counseling options, communicating with other parents and the like. The tone and content is also very even-handed, seeking not to preach but to inform, raising awareness by assigning responsibility free from guilt.
I do have one hope for this initiative which is in no way a criticism of what has been accomplished so far, namely, that Brady will consider expanding this effort to cover gun safety issues as they apply to adults as well. Because all of the shocking numbers on child/teen mortality and morbidity are much more shocking when we look at the data on gun deaths and injuries for people who are no longer kids.
This site is an important step forward for Gun Violence Prevention. Use it – link it – tweet it – get it out to as many people as fast as you can.