Gun control seems to go in ebbs and flows. Some things are pressing issues right here, right now, while other things become bigger issues later on.
Right now, a lot of people are focusing on so-called assault weapons, but we all know that those kinds of laws aren’t going to be permitted to survive following the Bruen decision.
So what’s next? Well, based on a story at Vox, I can’t help but think mandatory storage is going to become a bigger focus.
Despite the horrific toll of firearm violence, America remains deeply divided on guns, and hopes for any kind of comprehensive gun control reform is dim. But the US could reduce gun violence — both youth suicides and unintentional shootings — by adopting stricter secure storage laws and educating gun owners about proper storage methods.
That’s why the national gun control advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety on Wednesday released a new report on preventing unintentional shootings by children, which was first shared with Vox. The group found that nine of the 10 states with the lowest number of unintentional shootings by adolescents have some form of secure storage protection. In contrast, the 10 states with the highest rates of unintentional shootings by children have very limited or no secure storage laws.
And while tougher laws and norms to better store guns would do nothing about the sheer number of firearms in America, storage safety offers a rare opportunity to find political consensus on guns. “Often people feel like nothing can happen in the gun debate, and while it’s true that the state of gun laws in the US remains weak, relative to our peers around the world, that doesn’t mean that change is impossible,” said Matthew Lacombe, the author of Firepower: How the NRA Turned Gun Owners Into a Political Force. “Butas bleak as things seem, and as dire and scary as this problem is, we’re in a better position to keep putting in the work to make change happen.”
The idea of pushing gun storage isn’t the problem. I’d gladly stand side-by-side with pretty much anyone who wants to advocate for securely storing firearms when they’re not in use.
The problem is that groups like Everytown want to focus on mandatory storage. These are the laws they tend to push.
What’s a true shame is that we’ve found ways to advocate for storage that we can find common ground on. Tax credits for gun safes, for example. Pretty much no one opposes these–not in the gun debate, at least.
But that’s not what Everytown pushes for. They may offer support, but that’s not where they start.
Then there’s this bit I need to address.
Ending the stigma around asking about gun storage
When you send your children to someone else’s home, you often ask questions to keep them safe: Do you have pets? Do you have a pool, and if so, how is it secured? My child has an allergy, do you have peanuts in your house? “All of those things are routine,” says Burd-Sharps. “Asking about firearms and how they’re stored should be another routine safety precaution.”
“It’s a difficult conversation, but it’s one that we have to have,” said Thomas, a mom to a 13-year-old and 10-year-old who has this conversation every time she sends her children to a new home or in a new vehicle. In the few cases where Thomas felt a firearm was not stored properly, she found alternative solutions, such as driving her child herself or proposing an outdoor play date.
Except, this is a problem. Why? Because people don’t trust the questioners.
Keep in mind that gun owners have been consistently stigmatized in recent years. Gun control advocates have done everything they possibly could to push us to the periphery of society. Those who own firearms generally keep them very quiet because it’s not considered polite to acknowledge that you have them.
So when someone asks the question, no gun owner is interested in answering it.
What’s more, too many others have gone on gun control tirades with parents who answered honestly, thus making it less likely others will.
Gun owners have become secretive because groups like Everytown have demonized firearms and gun owners to such a point that, frankly, a lot of parents aren’t going to get a straight answer.
Storing firearms is a good thing. It makes sense when they’re not in use.
But no one else gets to decide what “not in use” means in my home or anyone else’s, whether they’re a parent, the government, or some Karen with Everytown.