Columnist Milan Simonich (“Fun with Sam and Jane, and how to run a city,” Ringside Seat, March 31) had the audacity to tell readers that the mayor of Santa Fe, in a state with gun violence wreaking havoc on our families and communities, should not ask people to lock up their guns. Simonich accuses Mayor Alan Webber of supporting simple gun safety measures for political reasons.

Isn’t the safety of our community the top priority of our elected officials? It should be noted that Santa Fe’s two previous mayors also advocated for safe gun storage. Simonich’s misguided attack is not only inappropriate. It is dangerous. On average, we lose two children a month to gun violence in this state. Guns are constantly being stolen out of homes and cars because they are not secured. One Harvard study (and there are many on this issue) found that up to 32 percent of child firearm deaths could have been prevented had the firearm been locked up.

If that is not enough to question Simonich’s comments, then take a moment to reflect upon school shootings in the United States and New Mexico. Nationally, two-thirds of all guns used to slaughter children and teachers in school shootings were unlocked and taken by the shooter from their home or the home of a relative.

In Clovis, we saw what happens when a family does not secure their firearms. The teenager, who was suffering from substance abuse issues and depression, easily got his father’s firearm — the guns were kept in an unlocked safe. The teen walked into the public library, where he shot and killed two people and injured four more. The family is now being sued by the victims. In a Roswell school shooting, a student altered his father’s unlocked gun and then used it to critically wound two students.

Consider suicide in our state. The numbers are dire — and one of the strongest predictors for adolescent suicide is having a gun in the home. Tragically, in New Mexico, 10.7 percent of homes have an unsecured firearm and a teenager who is at a high risk for suicide, according to the state Department of Health.

We at New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence see firsthand the effects gun violence is having on our youth. That is why, since the pandemic started, we have handed out more than 1,000 free gunlocks (purchased by our nonprofit) along with bilingual gun safety pamphlets. It is also why we have funded and facilitated gun buybacks throughout New Mexico.

This isn’t about a mayor feeding his liberal base. It’s not about liberal or conservative. It’s about keeping children safe at home. We need articles — and elected officials — to promote safe gun ownership. Just like law-abiding, responsible gun owners already do.

Miranda Viscoli is co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

(6) comments

Miranda Viscoli

Fact Check: 1) This is the direct quote from Milan not Pic: "Webber’s position will play well with much of his base. It will alienate others in Santa Fe and New Mexico.

Law-abiding gun owners aren’t about to lock away a firearm they say they might need instantly for protection."

Fact Check 2) Really Khal? all we do is work on gun safety including youth who sadly commit gun violence. You want to take that one go for it. We have many gun owners in our group and we work closely with them. You won't win this one. Quit while you are ahead.

Khal Spencer

We were supposed to talk about that emergency gun storage map issue. Is NMTPGV still working on that?

Miranda Viscoli

We weren't never supposed to talk about anything with you?

Khal Spencer

Been a couple years but I have the emails.

Mike Johnson

Just another left wing rant about seizing our guns and repealing the 2nd Amendment, it is not going to happen.

Khal Spencer

In Milan's defense, he was quoting former former Mayor Sam Pick's criticism of Mr. Mayor. Still, there should be nothing partisan or acrimonious about actual gun safety as long a its not a Trojan Horse for something else. If your guns are not safely owned (and that includes both you and your firearms), the community is less safe. Miranda and I may disagree on some things, but not this issue.

That said, when was the last time the author of this piece or the Mayor showed up to talk to people at a gun shop or shooting range? Fact is, the whole gun conversation is being held inside two mutually exclusive and self-reinforcing bubbles. That's 95% of the problem.

For a really good read, see Nick Kristof's recent NY Times editorial. Here it is:

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