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In the News

Victoria Kennedy, Wife of Senator, Launches Gun Safety Group
States News Service, 10/7/1999

From the States News Service.
All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy stepped into the national spotlight for the first time in her seven-year marriage to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on Wednesday, announcing the formation of a non-partisan group seeking to reduce gun deaths and injuries among children.

As her husband and sister-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, looked on, Mrs. Kennedy said the group, Common Sense About Kids and Guns, was formed by gun owners and non-gun owners who want adults to take simple, precautionary measures to protect children from gun accidents.

Disparate organizations such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed Common Sense About Kids and Guns, Mrs. Kennedy said, in an effort to prevent young people from aving unsupervised access to guns.

"We felt there was an urgent need to come together," she said.

Although the group was formed in response to a series of recent shootings involving children, Mrs. Kennedy said Common Sense About Kids and Guns will not take part in the on-going -and still unresolved -congressional debates about gun control.

"It's the responsibility of adults to protect their children," said Mrs. Kennedy, who is the mother of two teen-age children.

In a national advertising campaign expected to begin within weeks, Common Sense About Kids and Guns will encourage gun owners to lock up unloaded guns and ammunition, and to "hide the keys where your kids can't find them." Parents will be encouraged to teach children not to touch guns and to tell an adult if they find a gun.

The ads scheduled to appear in newspapers around the country will feature Ann Marie Crowell of Saugus, a mother of three whose 12-year-ol son Brian died in a gun accident on Christmas Eve in 1997. Here for the announcement of Common Sense About Kids and Guns, Crowell said she raised her children in a home without guns but still lost a child in a gun accident.

"It was a totally preventable accident," Crowell said. "It never should have happened."

Another supporter on hand for the announcement was John E. Rosenthal, chairman of the Newton-based Stop Handgun Violence and owner of a parking garage near Fenway Park where a billboard visible to motorists on the Massachusetts Turnpike reads, "It's easier to childproof your gun than bulletproof your child."

Rosenthal said that in a country where five children die every day in gun-related accidents and suicides committed with guns, a new "non-polarizing" approach to the gun issue is necessary.

Common Sense About Kids and Guns also won praise from Senator Kennedy, a leading gun control advocate who said the group will b working to save lives while "we're stalemated in Congress."

Mrs. Kennedy, a lawyer specializing in banking regulation, played an active role in her husband's 1994 reelection campaign, but until now has not had a prominent position in a national issue. But Senator Kennedy dismissed the suggestion that this was his wife's "coming out."

"Oh no," he said. "She's a very accomplished lawyer."

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