Mourning a teen’s death; calling for gun safety measures

By Rep. Vicki Doudera | Aug 28, 2020

On Aug. 17, a 16-old-year boy accidentally shot and killed himself with a handgun at his home in New Sharon. The boy had been video-chatting with a friend, and it was later confirmed by Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. that the gun was owned by a family member.

I am absolutely heartbroken at the death of yet another Maine child by a firearm in his own home. As a mother and grandmother, I cannot imagine the pain of this boy’s family, nor the anguish of the friend who had been speaking with him seconds earlier. Tragedies like these affect a whole community, and I am holding the students, teachers, administrators, first responders and everyone else in New Sharon in my prayers.

I can’t help but think back on our efforts last session to pass legislation protecting kids from accidental shooting deaths by unsecured firearms and wish that my bill had prevailed. Safe storage laws are not about punishing parents who lose children in this horrific way, they are public safety measures that seek to change behaviors so that people think twice before leaving guns where kids can access them.

Last year, I sponsored LD 379, An Act To Protect Children by Requiring the Safe Storage of Loaded Firearms.

The proposed bill required that loaded firearms in homes with children be secured in a locked gun safe or with a trigger lock to prevent children from gaining access to them. It also asked firearm dealers to post a warning that guns should be securely stored.

The bill, which was supported by gun safety advocates and teen suicide prevention experts, had a close vote on the House floor, but ultimately did not receive enough support in the Legislature to advance.

Rep. Vicki Doudera is serving her first term in the Maine House. She is a member of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee and represents Camden, Islesboro and Rockport.

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