No city, including Edmonds, is safe from gun violence | Guest View

By Mike Nelson | Oct 03, 2016
Mike Nelson

As my wife headed out with the kids to hop on the ferry, I texted her to warn her to “be alert.” I immediately stopped short and asked myself, “Why?”

Why was I worried about my family just riding on a ferry?

While I understand it is normal to worry about your kids when they go to the movies, out for dinner, to school, to a friend’s house or to the mall, what is not normal is to fear that when my children are just going about their day they could become the next victims of gun violence.

This is not normal. But it is becoming so.

But Mike, “We are in Edmonds and Edmonds is safe.”

You bet, and the kids at Marysville-Pilchuck High School were safe until one day they weren’t. The kids in Mukilteo thought they were safe at a house party, until they weren’t. Shoppers in Burlington thought they were safe, too.

No city or state in our country is safe from gun violence. In Washington state, a child or teen is killed by a gun every eight days. Over half of suicides among children and teens are the result of guns from inside their own homes.

And the rate of school shootings in Washington State is 2.2 times higher than the national average.

I know. What can you or I possibly do against a lone gunman, a jealous boyfriend or a depressed son from gun violence?

Turns out, there is a lot we can do.

Just ask Nicole Hockley, a mother who lost her baby boy to gun violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She started Sandy Hook Promise, and teaches how we can each actually help prevent gun violence. That “every gun death is a preventable death.”

Here are just two (of many) things Nicole says we can all start doing:

Keep it safe and secure

When your firearm is not in use, store it safely and securely so that only you and those you authorize have access to it. We can make sure our guns are not accessible to our kids, their friends or unwelcomed visitors who come to our home when we’re away.

We know that keeping firearms locked and unloaded, and storing ammunition in a locked location separate from firearms in the home, have proven to save lives.

Say something

Over the last 25 years, research shows that in seven out of 10 acts of gun violence a friend was told that an act of violence would be committed or may take place. Unfortunately, no one took action with this information to stop the violence before it started.

We need to learn the observable warning signs that are often present in behavior that could lead to someone hurting themselves or others. We need to look out for one another and report possible threats of violence when someone sees, reads or hears something – especially within social media.

Additionally, in Washington state, we need to report when our guns are stolen or lost.

There are approximately 971,000 Washington gun owners who keep their guns unlocked in their homes and cars. And in just one year, there were at least 5,053 guns stolen or lost in our state, with 96 percent of them owned by private citizens.

Sadly, many stolen guns are not reported and will be used in violent acts against us and our loved ones. If your gun is stolen, you should notify law enforcement immediately, to help prevent it from being used in a crime.

The right to bear arms is a constitutional right and with that right comes a duty to be responsible and safe with the arms we bear.

Each of us has the power to prevent gun violence and promote gun safety.


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