Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg kicked off National Gun Violence Awareness Week and Wear Orange Weekend by introducing a poster campaign promoting safe gun storage at the site of a digital billboard in Humble on June 3.
Twenty-five billboards across North Houston, with messages in English and Spanish, will encourage residents to secure their guns at what Ogg says is a critical time.
“Thousands of kids are coming out of school right now or already enjoying summer vacation, and routines are changing,” Ogg said. “As parents, it’s important that we recognize the need to keep our children safe not just in our own home, but with that of others in other people’s homes and cars.”
The billboards, which were donated by Clear Channel Outdoor, are already online across the region, with some of the campaign funding coming from criminal forfeiture revenue from the district attorney’s office..
Maj. Quincy Whitaker of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said there were 11 accidental shooting incidents involving minors in Harris County between January 2020 and May 2022, with one resulting in the murder of a child on the school ground. However, Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria, the principal investigator of a Baylor College of Medicine study funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – reported a higher number, saying there were 40 accidental shootings by children in Harris County in 2021.
Mathuria said she was collecting accurate and comprehensive data, saying mortality data does not cover the full picture of gun-related injuries. As a trauma surgeon, she said children experience injuries that aren’t necessarily reflected in the data.
Focus on secure storage
Marentha Sargent, whose daughter Adrienne was accidentally shot and killed in 2017 due to careless weapons storage, said she gives out a biometric safe every month through her organization. Gun Safety 4 Adrienne Lambert.
When the safe is not donated, the organization pays for them out of pocket.
“It’s $120 to save a life,” Sargent said. “I will pay $120 a month for the rest of my life if I can save all these babies. We must do everything to store these firearms safely. I don’t want this to happen to other families anymore.
Larry Satterwhite, executive assistant chief of the Houston Police Department, urged the public to help reduce gun violence by securing their firearms. He highlighted investing in gun safes for vehicles, as well as removing stickers from windshields that might suggest the driver is keeping a gun inside the vehicle. vehicle.
“Criminals know how to get into cars and get under seats, and they know how to get into glove boxes and consoles,” Satterwhite said. “The simple locks they have are not secure enough in most cases to secure these firearms.
Satterwhite reported more than 2,800 guns stolen from vehicles in Houston in 2020 and nearly 3,700 in 2021, adding that trends in HPD data suggest more than 4,000 guns will be stolen this year.
Ogg called on Governor Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session following the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, saying she believes gun violence prevention is a nonpartisan issue.
“Gun violence can be prevented,” Ogg said. “We can do more about mental health and people’s access to guns…and the age at which someone can buy a gun. We can protect ourselves. And most importantly, we can protect our children.