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As Gun Purchases Skyrocket During Pandemic, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action Unveil ‘Be Smart’ PSA on Secure Gun Storage

View Ad Here; Ad Will Target New Gun Owners who Have Purchased Guns During the COVID-19 Pandemic

From 2015 to 2019, There Were More Than 1,600 Unintentional Shootings by Children, Resulting in More Than 600 Deaths and More Than 1,100 Injuries; More Than 600 Children Under 18 Die by Gun Suicide on Average Every Year in America

Lawmakers Including Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Bob Casey, Representative Jason Crow Have Released Videos in Support of the Campaign

NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund unveiled a new PSA elevating its Be SMART program and secure gun storage. As gun sales spike during the coronavirus pandemic, Everytown is committed to ensuring new gun owners practice secure storage. The ad, backed by a $400,000 spend, will run on streaming services and other digital platforms to raise awareness of the urgent need for secure gun storage as most Americans shelter in place and children and teens are home from school — millions with access to unsecured guns. The month of May will mark five years for the Be SMART program, and tens of thousands of Moms Demand Action volunteers have spread awareness about secure gun storage from coast to coast.

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At least 4.6 million children live in a home with an unsecured firearm — a number that could increase as gun sales have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. With millions of children and teens across the country at home from school closures, secure gun storage is the best protection against unintentional shootings by children and has been shown to decrease the risk of teen suicide. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has not stopped our gun violence epidemic — in fact, when it comes to crimes in the home, it’s made it worse,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown is running this PSA to ensure that new gun owners understand the risks of keeping a gun accessible to kids, and how secure firearm storage can save lives.”

“Not only will guns will not save us from the coronavirus, but they will actually put families at greater risk of harm,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “In the five years that Moms Demand Action volunteers have promoted the Be SMART program, more than 75,000 Americans have heard the program’s secure storage message. That message is more important than ever as gun sales spike in America due to the pandemic and simultaneously tens of millions of kids are unexpectedly at home from school.”

“Secure gun storage saves lives — something I know all too well,” said Julvonnia McDowell, volunteer with the Georgia chapter of Moms Demand Action whose 14-year-old son JaJuan was unintentionally shot and killed by a teen playing with an unsecured gun. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my son. We can’t rely on children to know better, and I urge parents to follow the Be SMART program to prevent other families from experiencing the pain and tears that my family and I have endured.”

“My military training taught me to respect guns as tools that come with risk, if not carefully handled, and I still carry that lesson with me today,” said Colonel Shannon Klug, a member of the Everytown Veterans Advisory Council, and a volunteer with the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Responsible gun owners like me keep their firearms locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition. The stakes are too high to leave things to chance.”

“Responsible gun owners know the importance of secure firearm storage,” said Mike Reese, Multnomah County, Oregon Sheriff. “An unsecured gun in the hands of a child or teen while home during the pandemic could mean the difference between life or death. It’s essential gun owners lock up and store their guns separately from ammunition.”

New research from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund demonstrates the urgent need for secure gun storage. Between February 28 and March 24, Americans made approximately 2.4 million Google searches related to buying or cleaning guns, which coincided with an increase in background check requests for firearm purchases nationwide. Other key findings in the data include:

  • States most affected by the pandemic in the early stage, including California, Connecticut, New York and Washington had particularly high changes in search activity.
  • 49 states and the District of Columbia experienced an increase in these gun preparation searches.

Elected officials in cities like Denver, Indianapolis, and St. Louis have also called on residents to practice responsible gun ownership, along with law enforcement and gun safety instructors who have also been urging secure storage during the pandemic. Federal lawmakers like Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congressman Jason Crow and Senator Bob Casey have joined state legislators and office holders across the country in releasing videos in support of the Be SMART campaign and practicing secure storage. 

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and state legislators Senator Ginny Burdick and Representative Rachel Prusak, along with gun violence prevention champions in Arizona, like Representatives Jennifer Longdon, Daniel Hernandez, and Randy Friese have released videos.

Local officials have also taken time to remind gun owners about the importance of secure storage, including Multnomah County, Oregon Sheriff Mike Reese, Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Penzone, and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. Mayor Andre Sayegh in Paterson, New Jersey and Christine Hunschofsky in Parkland, Florida also shared videos to raise awareness on secure storage.

The Be SMART program offers guidance to gun owners and non-gun owners alike on how to keep children and teens safe from the consequences of unsecured guns in the home. May 2020 will mark five years since the program’s creation. In the past five years, the Be SMART program has accomplished:

  • Over 10,000 Moms Demand Action volunteers leading local Be SMART programs
  • Nearly 6,700 Be SMART events in communities in every state
  • More than 150 community partners across the country
  • Someone hears the Be SMART message every 21 minutes
  • In Las Vegas, LVMPD committed to distributing 100,000 Be SMART postcards throughout its nine Area Commands, in partnership with its various community partners
  • Bexar County, Texas — which includes San Antonio — launched an initiative to promote Be SMART and gun safety. It includes distribution of Be SMART postcards in English and Spanish, ads on public transit, and a Be SMART bus wrap. 
  • Two South Carolina-based doctors published a commentary in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics about the important role pediatricians can play in spreading awareness about responsible gun storage. 
  • Over 1 million families with school children have received the Be SMART message through school distribution.

From 2015 to 2019, Everytown for Gun Safety’s #NotAnAccident Index tracked more than 1,600 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in more than 600 deaths and more than 1,100 injuries. More than 600 children under 18 die by gun suicide on average every year in America, a rate which has increased by 83% over the past 10 years. To address this safety issue, Moms Demand Action volunteers advocate for the Be SMART program to reduce the number of child firearm deaths that occur when guns are not stored securely. 

As more Americans are home from the pandemic, volunteers with Moms Demand Action have increased awareness around secure storage during the pandemic in states like Arkansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and North Dakota, to name a few.