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Monterey County Gets Together To Talk Safe Gun Storage

Michelle Loxton
Law enforcement officials, doctors, policy makers and community activists gather in Seaside to support the 'Be Smart' campaign which promotes safe gun storage.

In the United States, more children and teens die from guns than any kind of medical condition.  A new program is trying to prevent this locally.

Policy makers, emergency room doctors and police gathered in Seaside Monday to launch a new program that promotes the safe storage of guns. Called 'Be Smart,' the campaign aims to prevent the accidental shooting of children.

Monterey Police Chief David Hober was one of the speakers. 

“If you look at the statistics in Monterey County, we've not had an accident of this type.  However, there's great concern and we know that if these things happen in other places, certainly it could happen here,” says Hober. 

By law in California, guns in homes need to be secured in a locked container.  Or, the firearm must be locked with a device that disables it.  You could be found guilty of a felony if a child gains access to a firearm and causes death or injury to themselves or someone else. 

Rosemary Soto says it’s about respecting gun owners’ rights, but also providing education about safe storage.  She leads Monterey County’s Gang Violence Prevention Initiative.

“Not everyone has that information, or has that training or has been given that information about being a responsible gun owner,” says Soto.

Dr. Gary Gray is CEO of Natividad Medical Center in Salinas.  He says if one injury can be prevented, then that makes a difference.

“You can think of a significant firearm injury as kind of changing someone's life course and you kind of equate it to a chronic disease, it doesn't go away. It can cause permanent disability,” says Gray. 

Hospitals and police departments across the area will be incorporating the ‘Be Smart’ campaign into their community outreach programs.

From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.