As is always the case, talk of meaningful legislation to address gun violence has faded in the weeks following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Initially, there was bipartisan support for so-called “red flag” laws. And President Trump even voiced support for expanded background checks.

But just because the will for change in Washington has faded, we as individuals still have the power – and the responsibility – to do something about gun violence.

Year after year, Montana has the highest or second highest suicide rate in the nation. And teens are often the victims. Without question, access to firearms is a big contributing factor to that statistic. Our elected leaders may lack the consensus to pass laws that keep guns out of the hands of those likely to harm themselves or others. But we can do that in our own homes.

Most Montana homes have guns. But guns must be stored safely. All firearms should be stored in a safe or fitted with trigger locks. The latter are easy to use, and local authorities have even made them available at no cost. Likewise ammunition should be stored safely – locked away in a separate place from where guns are stored.

Making guns as inaccessible as possible – particularly in homes frequented by teens and children – minimizes the chances a troubled youth will use them to take his or her own life. Safe storage also minimizes the likelihood of a tragic accident. Keeping guns loaded and in places where children can find them is a recipe for disaster.

Responsible gun stewardship also involves keeping guns away from those with the potential to harm others. “Red flag” laws would enable authorities to bar gun ownership for people with a demonstrated potential to do harm. We can do the same in our own homes. If we recognize individuals with the potential for violence and keep guns away from them, we can help minimize the likelihood of another mass shooting.

Our elected leaders may lack the resolve to pass common-sense gun safety legislation. But responsible behavior by individual gun owners can still make a difference.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Don Beeman, community member
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Sarabeth Rees, community member
  • David Swingle, community member

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