Greenville Independent School District (ISD) Police Chief Ramon Rodriguez recently penned a letter to all parents and guardians within the district, highlighting the importance of safe firearm storage. This comes as a response to new Texas state laws that mandate school districts to disseminate information regarding responsible firearm storage practices.
In his letter, Chief Rodriguez stressed the significance of being informed about options for safe firearm storage and the importance of discussing this crucial topic with children and others. The backdrop for this concern is the alarming statistics related to gun-related incidents in Texas. In 2021, the state witnessed 4,613 gun-related deaths, with a significant portion of those attributed to suicides.
The Texas Department of State Health Services revealed that in 2020, 55% of firearm-related deaths in Texas were suicides, and firearms accounted for 59% of all suicides in the state. Suicide attempts involving firearms have a staggering 90% fatality rate. Consequently, restricting access to firearms is considered a crucial measure in reducing both self-harm and acts of violence against others, which often culminate in suicide.
The letter also reminded recipients that it is illegal to store, transport, or abandon an unsecured firearm in a location where children are likely to access it. Under Texas Penal Code 46.13, a person can be charged with the offense of making a firearm accessible to a child if they negligently fail to secure the firearm or leave it in a place where a child can gain access to it. Penalties for this offense range from a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a $500 fine, to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a $4,000 fine, a year in jail, or a combination of both.
To further encourage responsible firearm ownership, Texas exempts the purchase of firearm safety equipment from state sales and use tax. Chief Rodriguez offered a key piece of advice, stating, "Remember, a gun should be stored unloaded in a safe or locked container, with ammunition stored separately."
For additional information and resources on safe firearm storage, parents and guardians can visit the Texas Department of Public Safety's website at https://safegunstoragetexas.com. Chief Rodriguez concluded his letter with a poignant message, saying, "Safe gun storage is critical to preventing suicide, unintentional shootings, and other tragedies."