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In the News

Gun safeguards for children
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), 10/12/1999

Used by permission of The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC.
All rights reserved.

The name of a new initiative, "Common Sense About Kids and Guns," says it all. It is backed by a coalition made up of people who own and use guns and also by people who do not own them. Such an alliance is truly needed to establish a sensible middle ground for action to protect children from guns.

Common Sense About Kids and Guns brings together the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Crime Prevention Council, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, Stop Handgun Violence, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and two organizations, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute, that represent responsible gun owners.

The coalition is sponsoring a gun safety campaign, stressing such common sense - but all too infrequently observed - precautions such as securely locking up all guns and ammunition and placing them out of sight and reach of children; calling for extra caution if children are present when guns are in use; and teaching children never to play with guns.

Gun killings come right behind automobile accidents as the No. 1 cause of death among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control charted a 220 percent increase in child deaths from firearms in the decade 1984 to 1994 and found that, on 1997 data, the gun death rate among children under 14 in the United States was 12 times higher than the highest rate in the 25 leading industrial countries. It shouldn't have taken a spate of school slayings to arouse public concern.

A Charleston County School Board initiative called Gun Stoppers, modeled on the successful Crime Stoppers program, makes a good fit with Common Sense About Kids and Guns. The objective of Gun Stoppers, which has been in operation in Charleston since May 1994, is to eliminate all illegal guns from public places, particularly schools. This program works with the statewide "See a Gun" program promoted by state Attorney General Charlie Condon.

It's common sense for us all to work together, whatever our stand on guns, to protect children from being killed by them.

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