The call for safe storage of guns is getting louder and gaining significant traction. It is encouraging to see more than 200 hospital systems joining together to promote a public safety campaign that calls for families and friends to ask “the question.” According to Northwell Health CEO, Michael Dowling,
“Northwell Health is investing heavily in a public education and awareness campaign with about 200 other health systems. As “Hospitals United,” we’re addressing what these incidents put before us. It’s a simple public service message: “It doesn’t kill to ask” if there are unlocked guns in a neighbor’s or loved one’s home. We already know the results when children are able to gain access to firearms. – Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling
There are helpful resources to break down the stigma of asking friends and family about how they store their weapons. Most urgently, there are specific suggestions about broaching the issue when it comes to our children visiting friends and family members, to ensure safety. Simple steps, like “say my doctor asked me to check about gun storage for playdates” or “I have a quick list of safety questions, pets, allergies, unlocked guns?” All of these ideas break down barriers and encourage reframing the conversation about children’s safety.
To my absolute amazement and honor, the resource: “Helping Kids Cope with Gun Violence” features an interview I did with The Well, by Northwell. Safe storage is the one immediate action that we know will save lives. We can encourage parents to have these conversations and even better, we can have them ourselves with families in our school health offices. Using the harm reduction approach of providing education and safety equipment like gun locks is accessible for school nurses who want to participate in this public safety effort. Hopefully HospitalsUnited.com can add school districts across the country to their list of participants promoting this simple ask, “Are there unlocked guns at home?” It doesn’t kill to ask…but we know the outcome when we don’t.