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In the News

Kennedy Opens Gun Safety Campaign
Associated Press, 10/7/1999

All rights reserved. Used with permission.

By Melissa B. Robinson
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON –– Trying to avoid the political fire that comes with virtually any gun control debate, Victoria Reggie Kennedy has started a new campaign stressing gun safety at home.

Mrs. Kennedy, wife of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and her supporters are not advocating further restrictions on guns and won't be doing any lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Instead, "we hope to make unloading, locking and storing guns properly as automatic as buckling a safety belt," Mrs. Kennedy, co-founder of the nonprofit Common Sense About Kids and Guns, said at a news conference Wednesday.

The group hopes to draw widespread support by adopting a noncontroversial position: Adults need not give up their firearms but should help reduce children's accidental, gun-related deaths and injuries.

The group, which is privately funded, plans to run public service advertisements in print and on radio and television, some starting in the next few weeks.

"We applaud the approach they're taking," said Kathy Cassidy, manager of the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle" gun safety program for elementary school children. She said the group's message is similar to that offered by the NRA's children's campaign and its gun safety guide for parents.

Mrs. Kennedy, the mother of two teen-agers, said she did not approach the NRA for support. Other organizations, including gun and ammunition manufacturers, mayors, children's advocates and pediatricians, have signed on.

"If it just saves one life, that's a life worth saving," said actress Michael Learned, a campaign spokeswoman who portrayed mother Olivia Walton on the TV series "The Waltons" in the 1970s.

Ms. Learned recalled that her own son, as a boy of 10 or 11, could have been hurt or killed at a friend' house after the friend found a loaded gun, cocked it and pointed it at him.

An average of five children were killed every day in gun-related accidents and suicides committed with a firearm from 1990-1997, according to the group, citing statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"You have to, as an adult, be responsible," said Ann Marie Crowell of Saugus, Mass., whose youngest child, 12-year-old Brian, was shot and killed on Dec. 24, 1997, while at a friend's house. An unlocked, loaded revolver went off after the friend pulled it out of his mother's dresser drawer.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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