Moms Demand Action is a grassroots gun violence prevention organization fighting to keep families and communities safe from guns. We believe gun violence is preventable and work toward closing loopholes and advocate for stronger gun laws.

Moms Demand Action was founded after the Sandy Hook school shooting as a Facebook group for parents who wanted to do more to protect children. From there, it grew to a national movement of mothers and others, who want to ensure our children don’t have to live in fear.

The Lackawanna Luzerne County Moms Demand Action groups have organized numerous events to promote gun violence prevention. Last year, we hosted a speaker series featuring local experts and gun violence survivors. We ran a book drive for a local elementary school and a donation drive for the NEPA Youth Shelter.

We have also held vigils for Sandy Hook memorial on the anniversary of the school shooting. In February, we ran a blood drive with Miller Keystone Blood Center for Gun Violence Survivors Week. Gunshot victims are five times more likely to require blood transfusions and require 10 times more blood units than other injuries.

In June, we celebrate survivors of gun violence for our Wear Orange weekend and National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Orange is the color that Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore in her honor when she was shot and killed in Chicago at the age of 15 — just one week after performing at President Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013. After her death, they asked us to stand up, speak out and Wear Orange to raise awareness about gun violence. Wear Orange weekend will be June 3-5.

Be SMART for kids is our public health campaign to promote secure storage and keep kids safe from gun violence. The Be SMART campaign focuses on the importance of conversation, responsible gun storage and raising community awareness about child gun deaths.

In America, 4.6 million children live in homes with guns that are both loaded and unlocked.

Nearly 260 children 17 and under gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else each year — sometimes fatally.

Every year, nearly 600 children 17 and under die by suicide with a gun.

We encourage parents and all adults to “Be SMART” and take these simple steps to help prevent shootings by children:

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  • ecure all guns in your home and vehicles;

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  • odel responsible behavior around guns;

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  • sk about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes;

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  • ecognize the roles of guns in suicide;

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  • ell your peers to Be SMART.

We offer Be SMART presentations to parents, PTA/PTOs, libraries and organizations, we distribute information at wellness and safety fairs, and we ask organizations to share links to our website, www.besmartforkids.org.

There are a number of ways to get involved with the gun violence prevention movement. Text READY to 644-33, visit www.momsdemandaction.org or download the Demand Action App on your smart phone. You can also visit www.besmartforkids.org to find events and trainings specific to Be SMART.

Be SMART will have a table at the upcoming Pine Brook Family Arts Festival on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at John Adams Elementary School playground on Capouse Avenue in Scranton. Stop by to see us and learn more about Be SMART.

Join us for our next Lackawanna/Luzerne County Moms Demand Action membership meeting which will be held in person on May 21 at 10:30 am. To RSVP visit www.momsdemandaction.org under events.

As a parent, Be SMART has been especially helpful for me to talk to other parents about guns in homes. It is up to all of us to ensure responsible storage to keep our kids safe from guns.

Sheli Pratt-McHugh is the local group lead for Moms Demand Action in Lackawanna County. She is also a Be SMART presenter/speaker. If you have questions about Moms Demand Action email lackawannacountymomsdemand@gmail.com.

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