Partnership With School to Reduce Gun Violence

WESTCHESTER – Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah announced that the District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with Moms Demand Action, is taking proactive measures to help curb gun violence and prevent suicides, especially among young people, by launching the Safe Storage Program – an initiative that provides valuable resources to families in every school district in Westchester County on how to keep guns out of the hands of children.

On Dec. 14, 2021, the 9th anniversary of the Sandy Hook attacks in which 20 children and 6 educators were senselessly killed by a shooter using a gun taken from his home, school districts throughout Westchester County distributed information to their communities informing them of the risks posed by unsecured guns. As in Sandy Hook, and the most recent tragedy, at Oxford School in Michigan, most guns used in school shootings and gun suicides were obtained from a home. As part of the Safe Storage Program in Westchester, families were given information about how to keep guns safely stored and away from children. With the help of Moms Demand Action, the District Attorney’s Office will also offer free virtual training sessions on gun safety to all Westchester families next month.

“Guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States, and over 5 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm. One simple way we can help protect our children from gun violence is by keeping all guns in the home unloaded, locked and separate from ammunition,” DA Rocah said. “We are so pleased to work with school districts throughout Westchester County to share this information with our communities and we hope this is one step toward reducing the number of young people killed by gun violence.”

New York law requires gun owners to secure their guns if children 16 years old or younger live in or visit the home. All guns need to be in a gun safe or locked with a trigger guard or similar gun-locking device, and ammunition must be locked in a secure location away from the firearms. Storing guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition prevents access and saves lives. Violation of this law is potentially chargeable as a Class A Misdemeanor.

“Even if you do not own a gun, children may encounter one at the home of a friend or relative, which means we all have a responsibility to prevent children from accessing firearms and protecting against potential tragedies,” DA Rocah said. “Children often know where their parents’ guns are kept and they can’t always tell the difference between real and toy guns, which places them at greater risk. Our office will hold adults accountable for providing children unsafe access to guns when appropriate.”

“As gun violence continues to threaten communities across New York, one of the easiest ways to protect our children is ensuring guns are securely stored,” said Jessica Buck, a volunteer with the New York chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Requiring that gun owners securely store firearms is a crucial component of gun safety. We thank District Attorney Rocah for the work she has led to provide awareness to Westchester families about New York’s life-saving secure storage law, and how important it is in reducing the risk of unintentional shootings, gun suicides, and gunfire on school grounds.”

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