Stop the Violence cookout promotes gun safety
Written by WSLR News on Thursday, June 29, 2023
Last week was Gun Violence Awareness week, and the Stop the Violence cookout hosted by Streets of Paradise gained new significance with permit-less carry soon to be legal in Florida.
By Ramon Lopez
Original Air Date: June 23, 2023
Johannes Werner: Last week was Gun Violence Awareness Week. With neighboring Manatee County turning it into a gun rights celebration, a Stop the Violence cookout in the city of Sarasota turned into a noteworthy event. WSLR Reporter Ramon Lopez has that story.
Host: [Music] The eighth annual Stop the Violence cookout was held recently, outside the Love, Art, Repeat gallery on Central Avenue under sunny skies. The event hosted by the local nonprofit Streets of Paradise honored those last two violence and inspired attendees to create a better future together. Plenty of homeless folks were in attendance at the cookout, as well as members of the local community to share a barbecue lunch. Sweet snow cones were served to cool the crowd. Disc jockeys, a dunk tank and face painting entertained the kids. The Sarasota County Democratic Party was there to register voters, and in keeping with the events theme, a vendors table was set up to promote the Be Smart for Kids program.
Manatee resident Ginger McCallum, an activist for Be Smart and the Manasota Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, described what Be Smart is all about.
Ginger McCallum: Be Smart for Kids is a specific program designed for safe storage of firearms. It’s targeted for adults who have firearms in their homes and it’s a way to help those adults understand how to better keep their kids safer from violence by securely locking up those firearms. And then we also promote asking about unsecured firearms in the homes that the kids are going to, you know, friends and family. Recognizing the risk of teen suicide—we have a whole acronym.
“SMART” is secure your guns, model responsible gun behavior, ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other peoples’ homes, recognize the risk of teen suicide, and tell your peers. Tell others about Be Smart. It’s all about reducing the risk of gun violence to kids and teens, for whom gun violence is the number one killer in the United States of America now.
Host: Why are you at this event?
GM: What I hope to accomplish today is to spread the message of securely storing your firearms at home to as many people as possible, so we keep as many kids safer as possible from firearms and unintentional shootings.
Host: Be Smart workers are not alone in trying to protect kids from gun violence. The Sarasota Police Department recently hosted a Done With Guns turn-in and free gun lock giveaway event. SPD Chief Rex Troche said he’s committed to keeping unsecured and unwanted firearms out of the reach of both children and criminals. The police project is designed to eliminate the risk of theft, misuse or accidental discharge of guns. Troche said this year so far Sarasota has seen 14 firearms stolen from unsecured vehicles In all of 2022, 15 guns were ripped off from the unmarked cars. McCallum hopes to work with area law enforcement in stemming gun violence.
GM: We haven’t approached the police department yet, but we will, and Manatee sheriff’s office as well. And we’re hoping to work with both entities to help share the message and learn from them where they would like to share the message. But we’re 100% open to talking to any community or community group, school, club, we’ll come and do a 20 minute presentation on secure storage, and happy to do it.
Host: Is enough being done to secure firearms?
GM: In my opinion, there’s always more that can be done, and so many people have firearms in their homes now. There are more guns than there are people in the United States and they’re being purchased frequently. And often, those folks don’t understand, you know, the issues around safely stored guns, how many kids are unintentionally injured because they have access to those firearms. And how many, primarily teens, commit suicide using family firearms that were improperly secured.
So, there’s always more we can do, and particularly with permit-less carry coming up of July 1 here in Florida, I think there’s going to be more and more people because they don’t have to get that permit to carry their gun around. So we’re going to see a lot more people carrying those guns around and they need to understand the impact of not securely storing their firearms. [Music]
Host: This is Ramon Lopez for WSLR News.
The Critical Times is WSLR’s effort to keep the local community informed with our 1/2 hour local news show, quarterly newspaper and social media feeds. The local news broadcast airs on Fridays at 6pm and alternate Wednesdays at 6pm.