The battle against gun violence is fought on numerous fronts. The most high-profile fronts relate to the acquisition of firearms — whether the topic is background checks or assault weapons — but what about the tens of millions of weapons already out there?
That’s one question being addressed locally by Moms Demand Action NorthShore, a chapter of the national nonprofit pushing public-safety measures to curb gun violence.
In the wake of the Fourth of July mass shooting in Highland Park, MDA NorthShore encouraged local public officials to promote gun-safety measures and programming within their respective communities.
“Those guns are not going away. No one is removing those guns,” said Erinn Martin, co-lead of MDA NorthShore. “So we have to handle it from a community basis.”
Thanks to Martin and company, the villages of Winnetka, Wilmette, Glencoe and Northfield sent gun-safety reminders to their community email lists, as did local school districts Winnetka D36, Joseph Sears D38 and Glencoe D35.
Martin said the local MDA chapter is also working with Wilmette D39 on a similar initiative.
According to Everytown For Gun Safety, 54 percent of gun owners do not lock all their firearms securely, and when there is gunfire on school grounds, 80 percent of the shooters (18 and under) use a gun they got from home or from the home of someone they know.
With the surge in gun purchases during the pandemic, Martin said it’s more important than ever to remember firearm safety.
“During COVID, a lot of people want to buy a gun but don’t know how to store it properly, don’t know how to use it properly,” she said. “Let’s go ahead and get you set up with classes and how to store it properly. That way we can own guns safely.”
Many of the local police departments partner with the program Project Child Safe, which offers a “guide to responsible gun ownership, safe handling and secure storage.” Scroll down to see the information local departments shared with their communities.
Martin and Moms Demand Action NorthShore is also pushing to restrict gun sales, specifically the sale of assault-style weapons. MDA volunteers are calling local lawmakers daily and contacting voters in Midwest states with looser gun control to get a sense for their appetite for change.
Firearm Safety Measures Shared By Local Police Departments (in partnership with Project Child Safe)
- Store unloaded firearms in a locked and mounted cabinet, safe, gun vault or storage safe.
- Unloaded firearms can also be secured with a gun locking device that renders the gun inoperable, but gun locks are not a substitute for secure storage.
- Store ammunition separately and securely.
- Always check firearms to be sure they are still unloaded when you remove them from storage.
- If firearms are disassembled, parts should be securely locked in separate locations. If you are concerned about quick access to your firearm, consider a special lockable case that can be quickly opened only by you/authorized individuals.
Village of Wilmette (Webpage with Village firearm safety programs)
• The Wilmette Police Department will temporarily store firearms and ammunition at no cost if needed, such as if a family member experiences a mental health crisis.
• The department can assist residents with court petitions to remove a family member’s access to firearms should that individual be a danger to themselves and/or others.
• The department offers a Firearm & Ammunition Disposal Program.
• The Village offers free firearm cable locks at the Police Station (710 Ridge Road).
Village of Winnetka
• Village Code: It is unlawful to keep any assault weapon in the Village unless it is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, rendering the weapon inoperable by any person other than the lawfully authorized user. It is also unlawful for any person to carry or possess an assault weapon in the Village, except when they are on their own land or in their home.
• The Winnetka Police Department will take possession of and destroy any firearm brought to the station, 410 Green Bay Road, at any time. According to village code, no one surrendering a firearm will be asked for identification or subject to prosecution for turning it in.
Village of Glencoe
• The Glencoe Public Safety Department provides cable-style gun locks to residents free of charge — in partnership with Project ChildSafe.
• Glencoe Public Safety provides for safe destruction of unwanted firearms. If you are in possession of a firearm that you no longer want, bring it to the Public Safety Department who will take possession and have it destroyed.
Village of Northfield
• Temporary Storage of Firearms — If a temporary situation exists where a resident is not able to provide safe storage of firearms, the firearms can be stored at the police department at no cost. If firearms cannot be transported safely and legally, an officer will respond to the residence to retrieve them.
• Firearm and Ammunition Destruction — Unwanted firearms and ammunition can be turned in to the police department at any time for safe destruction. If firearms or ammunition cannot be transported safely and legally, an officer will respond to the residence to retrieve them.
• Firearms Restraining Orders — Under the Firearms Restraining Order Act, family members, household
members and law enforcement can petition the circuit court to remove a person’s access to firearms, based on evidence that the person is a danger to themselves or others. The police department can provide additional information and assistance with these matters.
Village of Kenilworth
• Free gun safety kits are available through the Kenilworth Police Department. Contact officer Holger Bucks at (847) 251-2141 for more information.
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