What if a child or adolescent picks up that rifle we use for hunting?
Living in Southeast Alaska since I was 2, venison has always been a staple at the table because at least one family member was a deer hunter. I was mostly unaware of the firearms my dad and my husband used in hunting because they locked the guns away, separate from the bullets. Because they were carefully secured, the guns were not available for the purpose of harming oneself or someone else. Secure storage keeps families safe.
Now my two daughters are grown and their husbands are hunters. Our youngest daughter has a baby girl; her sister is expecting a boy in June. Gun violence is the No.1 cause of death for Alaskan children and teens — and almost half of Alaskan high schoolers report they can get and be ready to fire a loaded gun. That is why my most fervent wish is for these children and others like them to grow up unable to access the guns in their homes — or in their friends’ homes.
Alaska’s legislators can do two things to protect Alaskans from gun violence. They can sponsor a secure storage bill, similar to those passed in 20 other states, requiring gun owners to lock and store guns so young people cannot access them. Alaskan lawmakers can also support HB 122, the Extreme Risk Protective Order, which exists already in 19 other states. Laws like this allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns if, through due process, the court determines someone is a threat to themselves or others. I urge Alaskans to ask legislators to sponsor and conduct hearings for these two forms of gun safety legislation that will keep families safe from the gun violence afflicting our state. It’s about saving lives.