Groups Promote Responsible Gun Ownership

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Guns are the leading cause of death for kids under 18 in Louisiana and across the United States. On April 6, Children’s Hospital New Orleans and the New Orleans Health Department are taking action by partnering with Be SMART to educate the community about responsible gun ownership to protect kids and reduce child firearm deaths. Be SMART is a national program designed to help parents and adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions to prevent child gun deaths and injuries. ​​

Today, 4.6 million children across the United States live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. Each year in the U.S., 350 children gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else—sometimes fatally. And more than 700 children die by suicide with a gun each year.

During this afternoon’s news conference at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, community leaders from the City of New Orleans, Moms Demand Action, American Academy of Pediatrics and leaders and physicians from Children’s Hospital New Orleans gathered to address the critical issue of gun safety in our community.

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“For years, our health care providers have cared for thousands of New Orleanians with gunshot wounds, and every one is devastating,” said Jennifer Avegno, MD, director of the New Orleans Health Department. “As adults, we’re responsible for keeping our children safe. That’s why it is crucial for us to store guns securely if we have them – and encourage friends and neighbors to practice secure storage whenever children visit their homes.”

Guns should be stored unloaded, separate from ammunition and locked in boxes, safes, or with cable locks. In partnership with Be SMART, Children’s Hospital New Orleans and the New Orleans Health Department will share this important message via broad public education mediums including sharing messaging and resources on social media, print, outdoor and radio ads, targeted mailings, and distribution of materials through schools, health care settings, community organizations and special events.

“We urge the community to join us in spreading this life saving message across New Orleans and beyond,” said Lucio A. Fragoso, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “As the only verified Level II Pediatric Trauma Center serving Greater New Orleans, we care for far too many of these children in our Emergency Department, our Operating Rooms and Intensive Care Units. But together, we have the power to prevent tragedies like these from happening and to keep kids happy and healthy.”

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In collaboration with the City of New Orleans Office of Neighborhood Engagement, public events are being scheduled where free biometric gun locks will be available to residents, along with education on how to use them, how to securely store guns, and prevent injury and death among children. Gun locks can also be requested on Children’s Hospital’s website at chnola.org/besmart, along with education and resources. Funding for the biometric gun locks is made possible through a grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the City of New Orleans and Children’s Hospital.

“Be SMART advocates in Louisiana are thrilled to stand shoulder to shoulder with public safety leaders across New Orleans,” said Shannon Cian, the Be SMART volunteer leader in Louisiana. “Together, we’ll work to keep our kids and communities safe from the dangers of unsecured firearms.”

Be SMART and help spread the secure gun storage message to keep kids safe. Visit chnola.org/besmart or besmartforkids.org/Louisiana for more information about upcoming biometric gun lock giveaways, tools and resources.

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