The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Johnson County partners with Be SMART campaign to promote gun storage safety

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors partners with the Be SMART campaign program to promote gun safety resources in the community.
Sara Stumpff
The Johnson County meeting room is seen before a Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting at the Johnson County Administration Building in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on April 4 to partner with the Be SMART program, a national campaign that provides secure gun storage safety information to communities.

The partnership was brought to the board by Temple Hiatt, the lead for the Iowa chapter of Be SMART. As the Iowa lead, Hiatt’s job consists of reaching out to communities across Iowa to encourage them to normalize having conversations surrounding gun safety.

“What we want to do is just create a culture of responsible gun ownership and reduce the unintentional shootings for kids,” Hiatt said. “If we can remove access to guns to those who shouldn’t have access, we can reduce the leading cause of death for children and teens in America.”

“SMART” stands for Secure, Model, Ask, Recognise, and Tell. These words provide a model for five actions that can help prevent gun-related deaths and violence. The Be SMART campaign often partners with local activists to spread informational safety resources.

Hiatt said Be SMART was created by a group of volunteers within Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization that targets ending gun violence. 

Hiatt said the goal is to educate parents and adult role models to talk with their children about understanding the importance of gun safety, through engaging the community with resources such as informational pamphlets. 

“We have guides for parents on how to talk to your kids about the presence of guns, at different ages,” Hiatt said. “You know, for the younger kids, one through five, that conversation is going to look different than it would be for an adolescent.”

Johnson County Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass said she agrees with the importance of normalizing gun safety conversations with young children. She said the Be SMART campaign offers steps of guidance for parents to have these difficult conversations with their children and promotes overall safety.

According to the Be SMART campaign’s factsheet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 700 children die from firearm suicides each year, accounting for 42 percent of child suicides.

Be SMART also offers multiple suicide prevention resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The organization also offers an LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention line, provided by The Trevor Project, a national mental health-based resource center for the LGBTQ+ community.

According to EveryStat, Iowa has the 37th highest rate of gun violence in the U.S., with over 300 related gun deaths per year and more than 500 gun-related wounds.

Board of Supervisors Chair Rod Sullivan said partnering with Be SMART was a “no-brainer.”

“Almost anytime you see a gun death or a gun injury for a young person, the gun was unsecured somewhere, and it was available to the young person,” Sullivan said. “And so all this program really tries to do is limit those opportunities.”

RELATED: Iowa lawmakers prioritize gun safety, school security in opening remarks

Sullivan said the Johnson County Health, Ambulance, and Sheriff’s Department are in full support of the initiative to promote gun safety. Sullivan said he hopes to see a continuation of efforts to promote gun safety.

Hiatt said that anybody can benefit from the Be SMART resources, and anybody can help prevent gun violence.

“We all have a role to play in preventing gun violence,” Hiatt said. “So, again, however we can normalize this conversation, and just help our community create a culture of responsible gun ownership, we want to do that.”

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About the Contributor
Sara Stumpff
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.