Concerned parents and Zionsville residents gathered at the Zionsville Town Hall community room Aug. 22 for a BeSMART gun safety conversation, a talk given by advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense as part of the Boone County Voices for Change Speaker Series.
The event featured a panel discussion on gun safety in the community, schools and homes with members including Jane Hedeen, Laura Walls, and Caley Concannon.
Walls is a primary care pediatrician with the IU Health Arnett group in Lafayette, practicing general pediatrics for 11 years, and a volunteer with Moms Demand Action.
“The emotional impact of school shootings is beyond the impact of our discussion tonight,” Walls said.
Walls presented statistics on gun safety, stating that Indiana has the highest rate nationally of teens who consider suicide, and the second highest rate of teens who attempt suicide. She discussed child access prevention laws and Indiana’s red flag law which allows officers to remove firearms from anyone deemed dangerous or at imminent risk of self-harm.
Jane Hedeen has been the Indiana state leader for the BeSMART for Kids child access prevention program since its inception in 2015. She presented the BeSMART approach to gun safety to the audience.
“Mass shootings can stun us into a feeling of helplessness,” Hedeen said. “The truth is that we are not at all helpless.”
According to BeSMART, every year nearly 300 children age 17 and under gain access to a gun and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else, and nearly 500 more die by suicide with a gun.
BeSMART offers an approach to gun safety that stands for securing guns in homes and vehicles, modeling responsible behavior with guns, asking about unsecured guns in other homes, recognizing the risk of teen suicide and telling your peers to use the BeSMART approach.
The third presenter, Concannon, is co-leader of the Boone County Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Moms Demand Action was formed in the days following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2015. The organization has grown into a leading voice in gun violence prevention with chapters in all 50 states.