Edward Walworth: Support for ‘Safe Storage’ firearms bill

The Maine Legislature will soon be considering several bills regarding gun safety. The passage of such laws has been infrequent at best, as many of our representatives from both political parties and occupants of the Blaine House have been reluctant over the years to embrace the cause. Witness the watering down of a fairly strong Red Flag law to the current relatively ineffectual Yellow Flag process.

A bill currently up for consideration, LD 759, the “Safe Storage” bill, would add another category to the current Maine Criminal Code regarding child endangerment. When a loaded firearm was left unsecured on the premises, allowing a child to access the weapon, that would constitute endangerment of the child and become a Class D crime.

Already this year there have been two instances in Maine of a child finding and discharging a firearm in a home. In Waterville in January, a 5-year-old shot his 2-year-old brother in the head. Just the other day in West Bath, a 2-year-old found a loaded pistol and managed to shoot both of his parents and injure himself.

As a surgeon, I have had the experience of dealing with a fatally-wounded child who never even made it into the operating room. Such tragedies are preventable, and LD 759 would go a long way toward enhancing the safety of children in homes with firearms.

Edward Walworth, MD, Lewiston

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