Raising awareness about ‘gun sense’ 

Published: 9/25/2020 11:57:47 AM September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the local Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gu...

Published: 9/25/2020 11:57:47 AM

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the local Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is raising awareness in Springfield and its surrounding communities to ensure that suicide rates in Massachusetts remain low.

In 2018, the national rate of suicide (all ages) by firearm was 7.01, in Massachusetts the rate of suicide firearm death was 1.86. However, firearm is the most lethal means of suicide and in 2016, 22% of all suicides were by firearm in the state. At a time where we are becoming increasing polarized, suicide prevention is an issue that everyone can understand and get behind.

A key initiative of Moms is the Be Smart campaign at besmartforkids.org. This campaign is designed to help parents and adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions to prevent child gun deaths and injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control WISQARS data (2014-2018), 40% of child gun deaths (17 and under) are suicides. And for people of all ages, access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by three times.

The Be Smart framework simply asks all parents and adults to take five action steps: Secure all guns in home and vehicles; model responsible behavior around guns; ask about the presence of guns in other homes; recognize the role of guns in suicide; and tell peers to “be smart.” These five steps will not only help children stay safe, but also ensure people of all ages have reduced risk of death by firearm suicide.

Another gun safety initiative Moms is raising awareness about is ERPO, or the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law. (Red Flag Law). This 2018 law authorizes a person’s family, household members, current or former dating partners and FID card-licensing authority where the person lives, to petition a court for a civil order preventing a dangerous person from accessing firearms for up to one year.

It’s also important to note that it is a crime to file a petition for an ERPO under false pretense or knowing the information in the petition to be materially false or with an intent to harass the respondent.

The bottom line is that we all have an invested interest in ensuring safety in our state and we can all agree one life lost to suicide is one too many. Moms thanks all responsible gun owners in Massachusetts and invites you to join us to keep the state moving in the right direction with respect to firearm suicides.

Moms Demand Action is sending packets of fact sheets on Be Smart and ERPO to all 68 police chiefs in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties. It is our hope that they will share copies with all those applying for an FID card in efforts to continue the work they do every day to make our communities safer.

Robin Neipp, of Leyden, is the group lead for Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense Pioneer Valley.

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Newsrust: Raising awareness about ‘gun sense’ 
Raising awareness about ‘gun sense’ 
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