SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – June 4 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and National Safe Day. It is a time to remember the victims and take steps to stop future violence.
Julvonnia McDowell, a member of Moms Demand Action and Be SMART, says she advocates for safe gun storage because of what happened to her son on April 7, 2016.
“My why is to honor my son Jajuan with my action…to make sure that another parent, another mother does not have to go through what I’m living through every single day,” she told WSAV on Friday.
McDowell says Jajuan, who was 14-years-old at the time, was shot and killed by a family member during a visit to Savannah. The 13-year-old got hold of an unsecured firearm.
“What I didn’t do that I wish that I did and now I’m advocating for is to ask,” said McDowell. “Ask others are there any guns in your home? And how are they secured? [Do it] so your child can return home to you safely and you’re not picking out a casket.”
Be SMART is both a campaign an acronym for adults to secure all guns, model responsible behavior, ask about the presence of unsecured guns, recognize the role of guns in suicide and tell peers to be smart.
McDowell says 4 million children live in homes with unsecured weapons.
Savannah Police department (SPD) has its own campaign to encourage safe gun storage.
At every precinct, officers are giving out as many gun locks as possible. Accidental shootings happen several times each year.
“Nobody should ever have to respond to those calls or even call 911 for something like that,” said SPD APO Samantha Sosbe. “So if there’s any way we can ensure that it doesn’t happen to our community, we will take every step that that requires.”
APO Sosbe also suggests storing your gun in a hard-to-reach spot and separately from ammunition.
McDowell says it could save a young life like her son’s.
“We know that children are curious by nature. If they can stumble across Christmas gifts, they can stumble across an unsecured firearm,” she said.