Within the past year, three children in Maine unintentionally shot themselves. Two of them lost their lives. As a mom, this breaks my heart. As the daughter of a gunsmith who unintentionally shot someone back in 1975 while repairing a pistol, my heart goes out to all involved.

The circumstances may vary, but all these incidents have two things in common: No one ever meant to hurt anyone, and the sorrow never goes away. Because of my own experience, I have started volunteering with Moms Demand Action of Maine to help bring the Be SMART program to our communities.

Be SMART focuses on the importance of safe gun storage, conversation, and greater awareness of the warning signs of suicide in teens. Our trained volunteers do not want to talk about politics; we want to talk about safety. Be SMART is a 20-minute presentation for adults, urging them to take the steps below to reduce unintentional firearm injuries, deaths, and suicides among children and teens.

• Secure all guns in your home and vehicles.

• Model responsible behavior around guns.

• Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes.

• Recognize the signs of suicide and depression.

• Tell your peers about Be SMART.

We understand that these are difficult conversations to have, but now is the time to find common ground. And save lives. Be SMART is being presented all over the country to PTAs, police departments, Rotary Clubs, senior citizens, pediatricians, and neighborhood watch groups. You can learn more by visiting BeSmartForKids.org. We have trained Be SMART volunteers ready to come to your next meeting or set up a table at a community event to talk about keeping Maine’s children and teens safe from unintended gun violence. Please email us at [email protected] for more information.

Sue Repko

Be SMART lead

Maine Moms Demand Action

Eliot

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