Editorial: Continue gun safety programs
With interest and funding waning in the gun buyback programs around the state, organizers of the program have decided to eliminate it and focus instead on offering the public free gun locks and gun safety classes. Statistics prove that the buyback is not garnering many guns, especially since Sept. 11, but while education and locks are offered, more proactive programs should be planned and implemented to encourage the reduction of superfluous guns in homes.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, gun sales rose to 22 percent across the country and leveled after January. However, with so many guns being bought, the public should be educated about safety, especially when children are in the homes of gun owners.
The gun buyback program certainly had its highs and lows. In its inception, the program was very successful, especially following the Columbine massacre, which prompted many people to get rid of their guns. However, the program soon lost interest again.
Right now, Americans seem unwilling to release their firearms for personal safety reasons. Thus, programs such as Tampa’s Cease Fire are working to educate people about their guns and gun safety. Free locks are available in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for those who wish to use them.
It is good that education programs are being offered to children and adults, but more needs to be done that will actively mobilize communities as the buyback program did. Hopefully, the next programs will last longer and not fluctuate as much as the previous program.
Regardless of even that, officials and organizers of the program should be proud and applauded for educating so many people and getting thousands of superfluous guns off the streets, thus contributing to the decrease in gunshot injuries to children since 1998 in Hillsborough county alone.