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July 20 begins Gun Safety Week in Washtenaw County

By Lisa Carolin

The week of July 20 has been declared Gun Safety Week in Washtenaw County, thanks to a resolution approved by the county’s Board of Commissioners  on July 9.

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office hosted a press conference on July 10 to kick-off the gun safety effort, and representatives from every law enforcement agency in the county attended. Speakers included Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, Ann Arbor Police Chief John Seto, and Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie.

Also present at the news conference was Jamaica Washington, the mother of Keon Washington, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed following an argument at a party in Ypsilanti on June 27.
The purpose of Gun Safety Week is to encourage responsible gun ownership and raise awareness about gun safety.

“Regardless of political debates, there are weapons out there,” said Derrick Jackson, director of Community Engagement for the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. “We’re trying to change the conversation from gun debate to one about being good owners and stewards of guns.”

According to figures from Sharon Sheldon of the Washtenaw Department of Public Heath, there were 13 people with firearm assault related injury admissions at both the University of Michigan Health System and Saint Joseph Hospitals in Washtenaw County in 2013, and 17 in 2012.

Mackie shared stories about guns that were not properly secured with tragic endings. Gun owners are advised to store firearms in a location inaccessible to children, to make sure guns are never loaded while in the home, and that ammunition is stored under lock and key, separately from firearms.

Molly Hilton, from the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, also spoke. Statistics from her group show that two-thirds of unintended child gun deaths took place in the victim’s home or family vehicle with guns that were legally owned but not properly secured, and that toddlers ages 2-4 years are at the highest risk of a self-inflicted shooting.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Washtenaw County will be giving away free gun locks to the public as well as gun safety information during Gun Safety Week, beginning July 20.

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