Group holds gun safety seminar, gun shop owner says locking away gives wrong message

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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The family of an eastern Iowa teenager who died in an accidental shooting is urging everyone to get gun safety training.

15-year-old Kain Schild of rural Clarksville was with a group of other teenagers last Thursday when a gun fired, killing him. While his family supports gun safety training, the group, "Moms Demand Action," has taken a different approach. It's started a campaign that it calls "Be Smart." It hosted an event at the North Liberty library this week urging people to lock up their guns and keep them away from children. One volunteer with the group said that simple step can prevent accidents.

"Right now in America, nearly 1.7 million children live in homes with unsecured guns. Every year, nearly 300 children gain access to a gun and either shoot themselves or someone else. Nearly 500 more die by suicide," said Moms Demand Action Volunteer Rebecca Truszkowsky.

Moms Demand Action launched its "Be SMART campaign " a few years ago but has since gained traction in the wake of the Parkland Florida High School shooting. The owner of L and R Arms exchange in Durant said he thinks gun safety needs to go further.

Roger Howe grew up around guns. It's how he says he learned to properly handle them. Now, owning a gun store, he says gun safety is not about keeping kids away from guns but exposing them to guns safely.

"(Some people) want to make sure the education is there but in some instances those are the same groups that don't want children exposed to firearms," said Howe. "It's just like, if you've never been taught how to check the oil in your car or lift the hood, when the situation happens you're not going to be able to."

But the Moms Demand Action campaign is more limited in its focus, urging people to lock up guns and teach children to get help if they find a gun.

"Anybody can argue with wanting to keep children safe," said Truszkowsky. "We don't want to talk about legislation as far as this program, this is primarily to teach responsible storage."

The North Liberty Public Library hosted one of the group's training seminars, hoping the advice can save lives.

"It's completely preventable," said Adult Services Librarian Elaine Hayes. "I think that's part of what this program will be about, to preventing accidents."

Howe pointed out simply locking up guns isn't practical.

"You may not have the luxury of time to go to whatever location, unlock it, and then put it into effect. At that point, it might already be too late," said Howe.

Howe said kids should be taught to safely handle a gun, too.

"You don't have to make sure your kids become fire arms enthusiasts, but you do need to give them the education so that they can make an informed decision and know how to safely be around firearms," said Howe.

Howe advised those who do own guns to always consider every firearm to be loaded until proven otherwise, handle it safely and to not point it at anyone, including yourself.