Three simple ways we can all help prevent gun violence

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We have just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the shooting of Sandy Hook, where a young man opened fire on a class of freshmen, killing 20 of them and 6 adults – after having killed his mother at home. Although nothing can overshadow this tragedy, since then there have been many other tragedies, such as filming in Las Vegas, the Texas church and the recent filming in Northern California where, thanks to rapid actions of the local elementary school staff, the shooter's attempts to enter the school were foiled. He shot through the windows instead, injuring a child.

In 2014, more than 33,000 people in the United States died with firearms . For comparison, it is the same as the number of road accidents. Just as we work tirelessly to prevent people from being killed in or by car, we must work tirelessly so that fewer people die from guns.

Following Sandy Hook, it seemed like we could have a law to help prevent gun violence. But soon we got stuck in politics – and a lot of very strong feelings. It is clear that for many people, the possession of a firearm is a valuable right – and obviously, gun death is a complicated problem without an easy fix.

That is why we must look for simple ways so that we can all work together so that fewer people die. Here are three suggestions:

Keep guns and ammunition safe.

This one is really simple. Firearms should be locked and ammunition should also be locked elsewhere. What is essential here is that "safe storage" should mean "stored safely". If everyone in the house knows how to unlock weapons and ammo, you might as well have them in the closet.

This is especially important if there are young children in the house. Every year, many children shoot and injure other children, often siblings or themselves . It is also important that a person with acute mental health problems or visit the house. It can be embarrassing to tell them that they can not have the combination or the key, but clumsy is far better than tragic.

Supporting gun buyback programs and other local initiatives to end gun violence.

The first National Firearms Redemption Program will be held on December 16, two days after Sandy Hook's birthday. It's a simple concept: people can turn over the weapons they no longer need or want at participating police stations, and get gift cards (and trigger locks for them) in return. remaining weapons at home). These programs may not stop mass shootings, but by voluntarily removing certain weapons from the street, we risk keeping them out of the reach of people who use them in the wrong way. Even if you do not have a firearm, you can help by donating to buy gift cards and trigger locks.

It's through local programs, designed and implemented by people on the ground who know and understand the needs and challenges of their communities, that we can find some of our best solutions. Whether it's buy-back programs, community policing, educational programs, youth jobs, programs for victims of family violence, programs in faith communities, or community-based programs. 39, other local programs, we must all work together to ensure the safety of others. Which leads to my final suggestion …

If you see something, say something.

This is the standard request of the police, but I encourage all of us to think about it more broadly. After so many recent shootings, people who knew the shooter spoke of their concern or fear. There are a lot of people who are angry, isolated, unstable, mentally ill – and there is a lot of domestic violence. The vast majority of these people never shoot at anyone, but if we reach out, get to know our neighbors, let people (authorities, family, anyone who could help) know when someone we worry, we could avoid not only shootings but a lot of other sadness and tragedy.

To leave some knowledge is not always enough, obviously. We need to be able to follow up whenever someone is worried, and this is not always possible – and we need mental health resources and community support to be largely and quickly available. But letting someone know is a beginning – just like reaching out, instead of thinking that it's not our business, that it's the problem of someone else. 39, one of them.

Here's the thing: no matter what we end up doing about guns, we have to do a better job of taking care of each other.

About the Blogger: Dr. Claire McCarthy is Pediatrician in Primary Care at Boston Children's Hospital, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Harvard Editor-in-Chief Health Publications and official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.


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