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I’m a Gun Owner and Pediatrician. I’m Using my Voice to End Gun Violence

Our series “The NRA Doesn’t Speak for Me” highlights the voices and stories of responsible gun owners across the country advocating for gun safety.

I had just retired from my decades long career caring for children in my pediatric practice when Sandy Hook happened.

I just remember being overwhelmed with grief and disbelief after the shooting. I have three grandchildren and I don’t feel comfortable that they are safe.

Children shouldn’t feel afraid to go to school or fear that their parents might not come home. They should not have to practice active shooter drills. This is not a war zone. Their lives are more important than someone’s right to take their lives.

Why I’m in This Fight

At the time of the Sandy Hook massacre, I was finishing my term as president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Utah Chapter. I was at one of the meetings when I decided I would try and do something to prevent such a tragedy from happening in our state. 

With the support of the pediatric community, I started a safe gun storage campaign, Bullet Proof Kids Utah, in 2013. Our mission statement was: “Owning a gun is a right. Protecting children is a responsibility.” I couldn’t bear the thought of one of my grandchildren or one of my patients being shot because an adult in their life didn’t safely store firearms in the home. Safe storage advocacy felt personal to me.

I knew wholeheartedly that safe storage advocacy could prevent most suicides and injuries in children, but in order to have buy-in from hesitant gun owners, we needed to present our message in a non-confrontational way. 

We distributed gun locks and made posters, brochures, billboards, and bumper stickers promoting safe storage. Our campaign changed the way pediatricians talked about safe storage and won over the support of many Utah gun owners.

My three grandchildren.

What Responsible Gun Ownership Means to Me

When my husband and I moved to Utah in 1989, he became a gun owner to learn how to target shoot. Much later, I also obtained my concealed carry permit.  

As someone who took the appropriate steps to obtain a concealed carry permit, I understand the importance of placing restrictions on who can carry a firearm in public and in which settings. I was extremely disappointed that Utah passed a permitless carry bill during the 2020 session and I worry about the dangerous effect this will have on public safety.

There are plenty of gun owners in Utah, and most of them are responsible. There is a very loud minority, though, that fears gun safety laws will eliminate their Second Amendment rights. The NRA seems to represent this minority. 

Most gun owners want universal background checks, some form of safe storage laws, and concealed carry permit laws, but the NRA will do everything in its power to shoot down widely supported gun safety legislation.

Rallying Gun Owners to Support Gun Safety

The NRA represents a minority of gun owners and certainly doesn’t speak for me or the gun owners I know. I want to see more gun owners who don’t feel represented by the NRA join the gun safety fight rather than sitting on the sidelines.

Complacency will lead to more Sandy Hooks and someday, it might be someone you love that is lost or injured. So use your voice and your vote to fight gun violence.

Tragedy is what brought me to this fight, and I’ll do everything in my power to prevent another family from mourning the loss of a child or loved one.

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The NRA’s extremist views don’t represent the majority of gun owners. Responsible gun owners understand that commonsense gun laws go hand-in-hand with firearm ownership.

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