(NAPSI)—Our greatest treasures are our loved ones. Many a sermon has emphasized the importance of children, siblings and parenting. These are gifts from God, and more valuable than anything else on this Earth. Let’s not treat jewelry and cash as more important than our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, moms, dads and friends. If you lock up your baubles, surely you can lock up your firearms.
With a few simple steps, Americans can save nearly 3,000 children and teens from being shot every year.
The frequent stories of preventable gun deaths are too much to bear: A 4-year-old boy in Alabama found his grandmother’s gun and unintentionally shot and killed his 11-year-old sister. A 3-year-old in Indiana found a loaded pistol in the car and shot her pregnant mother. When a teenager grabbed a rifle from his parent’s home and went with his cousin to check on a possible intruder, he tripped and shot his cousin, who died soon after.
On average, eight children and teens are unintentionally shot every day, one of which is fatal. That’s hundreds of kids each year who die due to unintentional gunshots, not to mention the sometimes disfiguring, disabling and always traumatizing wounds suffered by surviving victims. These numbers don’t include death and injury to parents and other adults in similar situations.
Fortunately, we have the ability to stop this—and we must.
Unintentional firearm injury and death are avoidable. Commonsense safe storage practices—such as using trigger locks and safes, separating weapons from ammunition, and checking and rechecking to see that guns are stored unloaded—are simple, routine steps that can save lives. But saving the life of a loved one is not the only important factor when it comes to guns in the home, car or purse.
As I have seen in my experience as a pastor, the unintentional shooting death or maiming of a child or family member harms not only the victim and the shooter but the entire family. Anger, resentment, guilt, shame and blaming erode family bonds and often destroy relationships completely. As a Christian, it grieves me to see the destruction of families, and the grief is compounded by the gun owner’s desire to keep the gun loaded and reachable to fend off an intruder, all the while putting his or her family at greater risk of harm.
The Brady Center has coined the phrase “family fire” to denote the unintentional injury or death of a family member involving a loaded, unlocked gun that is improperly stored. “End Family Fire” is a national campaign to end this heartbreak. Safe storage will prevent Americans from burying a loved one with the thought “If only I had....”
-style:normal'>• Rev. Rob Schenck, D.Min., is an ordained evangelical minister and president of The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, located in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love” (HarperCollins, June 5, 2018) and also the author of “God and Guns,” a part of Zondervan’s upcoming book “Christianity Engaged in Culture.” Rev. Schenck is the subject of the Emmy Award−winning documentary “The Armor of Light” and a member of the leadership team for Survivor Sunday, a nationwide day of remembrance for the 30,000 lives lost annually to gun violence.