Promoting Gun Safety Initiatives

Submitted by gallagha on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 11:43


MAYVILLE, N.Y.: - The Chautauqua County Board of Health, Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office want our residents to be safe and well and are joining forces to remind residents safe gun storage is a priority in Chautauqua County. Many County residents are owners of firearms; with ownership comes the serious responsibility of proper handling and secure storage of the firearms in a safe manner in your home.


Many groups are coming together to share efforts and to create public education opportunities to ensure the community is well-informed of resources and best practices. 


“Empowering people with the right knowledge and tools is an important step toward keeping individuals, families, and communities safe and healthy,” said Dr. Lillian Ney, County Board of Health President.  “When it comes to firearms, promoting their proper handling and storage is a critical public health strategy to improve the health and safety of all.”


If you own a gun, it is critically important to follow these safety practices:

  1. Keep all firearms unloaded and locked in a safe place, away from children and other unauthorized persons, when not in use.
  2. Store ammunition under lock and key, separate from firearms, out of the reach and sight of children.
  3. Keep keys and combinations hidden.
  4. Teach children never to touch a gun and to immediately tell an adult if they see one.
  5. Read and understand your firearm owner’s manual.
  6. Follow safe gun handling practices:
  • Treat every firearm as if it were loaded;
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction – away from people and buildings;
  • Keep fingers off the trigger; and
  • Keep the firearm unloaded when not in use.


Parents and caregivers play a critical role in the importance of firearm safety with their children by having open and honest conversations about guns.


“Explain how a gun your kids might see on television or a video game is different from a gun in real life: a gun, in real life, can really hurt or kill real people,” said Christine Schuyler, County Director of Health and Human Services.Talk to other family members and the parents or caregivers of friends your children visit about safe gun storage practices.”


The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is working with Project Child Safe to try and secure a supply of free firearm safety kits for interested community members. More information will be made available as details unfold.


Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone said, “Gun ownership is a right that we all enjoy and we should take that right seriously. With every right we have a responsibility and with guns that is to respect any and all safety measures we can. Maintaining safe storage of your guns is critical to protecting our kids and others in our community.”


Under the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene (CCDMH), the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Chautauqua County is dedicated to protecting and promoting life by fostering shared responsibility through raising awareness and community supports while embracing hopefulness and resiliency in the Chautauqua region. 


Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services Carmelo Hernandez said, “CCDMH and the Alliance are focused on supporting our gun owners by providing education and resources for safe storage practices.  Knowing that suicide is a leading cause of death, we want to ensure that our county citizens have the awareness to recognize the signs of mental health issues and take it seriously.  When someone is thinking about suicide, putting time and space between that firearm can be lifesaving.” 


Secure firearm storage is an essential part of home safety. Assume children and teens can find guns. Be sure to store firearms locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition. Michael Hanselman is a USAF Veteran, NRA and Chautauqua County Pistol Instructor, and owner of Small Arms Pistol Academy, LLC.


Hanselman shared, “As a young child I had the right instructors who helped me understand the importance of firearms and the role they can play in this world. Whether it was used for hunting, target shooting or defense. Firearms in the hands of a properly trained and responsible community is essential.”


If you are experiencing a crisis, contact the 24/7 Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline by calling 1-800-724-0461, call/text the Suicide & Crisis Hotline at 988, or text TALK to 741741 to the Crisis Text Line. You are not alone.


In 2020, gun suicide among children ages 17 and under reached the highest rate in more than 20 years, and firearms became the leading cause of death among children in the United States. The U.S. is the only country among its peers that has seen an increase in the rate of child firearm deaths in the last two decades. In the U.S. in 2020, 30% of child deaths by firearm were ruled suicides, 5% were unintentional, and 65% of all child firearm deaths were assault. 


For more information and safety tips for firearms visit: https://www.nssf.org, https://besmartforkids.org/ or https://gunsafetyrules.nra.org/.


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