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.