HealthLinks Jan/Feb 2020

62 | | C H A R L E S T ON CO U N T Y M E D I C A L S OC I E T Y BE SMART WITH GUN SAFETY It Starts with Adults By Theresa Stratford There are 4.6 million American children living in homes with guns that are both loaded and unlocked. And every year, nearly 600 of them 17 and under die by suicide with a gun and an additional 100 are unintentionally shot and killed. Firearms are the second leading cause of death for children in the United States. These alarming statistics come from the Be SMART For Kids campaign, a national initiative dedicated to teaching adults about gun safety and respect for firearms. The organization’s focus on adult education with gun safety is based on securing firearms for the sake of children. “It’s preventive and that’s what really drives my passion to be involved in this organization,” said Dr. Anne Lintzenich Andrews, a pediatrician at the Medical University of South Carolina and advocate for Be SMART in the local Charleston community. She explained, “Teens and unsecured firearms are a terrible mix. How many teens have impulsive thoughts? The thoughts are usually fleeting, but, if they have access to a gun, they may act on those thoughts, and it will likely be fatal.” Not to mention the unintentional shootings that occur when children find an unsecured firearm in the home: How many stories