NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety unveiled a new public service announcement featuring Aaron Donald, three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the Los Angeles Rams and founder of AD99 Solutions Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of securely storing guns, as a means to prevent unintentional shootings, youth suicides, and other tragedies that can happen when kids and teens are able to access guns. The PSA was produced in collaboration with Everytown’s Be SMART program – a program developed by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action – and Donald’s AD99 Solutions Foundation, which aims to change the trajectory of Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable youth by providing the resources needed in a free, safe environment so they may excel athletically, academically, and socially.
“When kids gain access to guns, it puts them, their families, and those around them in danger,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Too many children’s lives are cut short by these senseless tragedies every year, but these deaths and injuries are avoidable with secure storage. We’re glad that Aaron and the AD 99 Solutions Foundation are raising awareness and getting this important message out: securely storing guns is common-sense, easy, and saves lives.”
As gun sales and gun violence have increased over the last year, so have unintentional shootings by children. During the pandemic, unintentional shootings by children have increased significantly, according to data from the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the research and education arm of Everytown for Gun Safety.
Research shows that to protect children and teens, gun owners should store guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition. Almost every single day, a child gets their hands on a gun and unintentionally kills or injures themself or someone else in the US and unintentional shootings deaths by children increased over 30 percent during the first 10 months of the pandemic compared to March–December 2019. 2021 looks to be equally deadly, with the highest number of January to June incidents of the past seven years.
Right now, it’s estimated that 5.4 million children live in a home with at least one gun that is not securely stored. That is an increase of approximately 800,000 children since 2015. Additionally, an Everytown analysis of CDC data found that young people (aged 10 to 24) have the fastest-growing firearm suicide rates of any age group over the last decade. The sharpest increase was found among children 10 to 14 who saw a 114 percent increase in the gun suicide rate from 2010 to 2019. In incidents of gunfire on school grounds, up to 80 percent of shooters under the age of 18 got the gun they used from their home or the homes of friends or relatives.
Developed by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action, the Be SMART program helps parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries. Aaron Donald and AD 99 Solutions Foundation have partnered with Be SMART to spread the word about keeping children safe by storing guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition.
The program encourages parents and adults to:
- Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior around guns
- Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
Tell their peers to be SMART