Harris Co. billboard campaign calls for safe gun storage as shootings increase

Erica Simon Image
Friday, June 3, 2022
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In 2021, there were 40 accidental shootings of children in Harris County, and the CDC says guns are now the leading cause of death for American children under 18.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and in the wake of recent mass shootings, the fight to end gun violence is front and center.

The surge of mass shootings has prompted lawmakers to once again talk about gun reform.

On Friday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg introduced a billboard campaign aimed at safe gun storage.

Ogg knows better than anyone that the Houston area has been plagued with a rise in gun violence, and residents of Harris County have expressed their frustration about it.

Although she said there would need to be long-term solutions, Ogg said she believes efforts like the new billboard campaign will help slow down the problem.

Ogg was joined by other law enforcement officers, safety and injury-prevention expert and pediatrician Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria, Marentha Sargent, who lost her teenage daughter in an accidental shooting, and a representative for Clear Channel Outdoors.

Their message was clear: Lock up your firearms, both at home and in your vehicles, so they can't be picked up by children or stolen and used in crimes.

"Firearm safety is the responsibility of every gun owner, especially when that gun owner is also a parent. When we fail to properly lock up our guns, tragedy can result, as we've seen over and over," Ogg said.

The CDC now says guns are the leading cause of death for American children under 18.

READ MORE: Harris County announces $4 million Youth Reinvestment Fund to combat youth gun violence

In 2021, there were 40 accidental shootings of children in Harris County.

Like many others, Ogg is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session to address the nationwide and statewide problem.

"Killing is not a partisan issue. Firearm violence can be prevented. We can do more about mental health and individuals' access to weapons," Ogg said. "We can do more about the age when somebody can buy a firearm. We can protect ourselves, and mainly, we can protect our children."

SEE ALSO: Gun laws in Texas allowed Uvalde school shooter to legally purchase weapons

The new billboard campaign targets not only freeway messaging on traditional and digital billboards but also billboards near neighborhoods.

The message will be displayed in both English and Spanish on 25 billboards throughout June, with an anticipated 10 million total impressions.

If you need a gun lock, the Harris County DA's office says you can call them and they will provide you one for free.

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SEE ALSO: Gov. Abbott instructs safety officials to conduct 'unannounced, random intruder' audits of schools