DPS beefs up campaign to keep guns out of children’s hands

Austin

The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety told gun safety advocates and his department at the Public Safety Commission that a larger public awareness campaign on gun safety is “no problem.”

“We can, and if it’s lawful, we have no problem doing it,” said Director Steve McCraw when asked by members of the Public Safety Commission. 

Between 2003 and 2013, 345 children died nationwide in unintentional firearm deaths; 188 were playing with the guns when they were shot. 

“People just don’t think about it and I think it’s important just like we see the signs on the highway say ‘click it or ticket,'” said Aimee Turney, who drove to the commission meeting from Houston.

Turney came to ask the governing body of DPS to do more to promote gun safety after an effort in the Texas legislature went nowhere. Texas Gun Sense is trying to get DPS to put gun safety and suicide prevention information in its driver license centers as well as utilizing billboards and putting it on social media. 

“So we can do more on the front end to make people know how important it is to lock up our guns and keep them away from kids, people that are suicidal, or those that could be mass shooters. And I’m here today because DPS’ vision statement is to proactively protect the citizens of Texas,” said local gun violence prevention advocate Andrea Brauer. 

According to RenEarl Bowie, director of Regulatory Services Division, the info is already provided to hand gun license instructors. “So at the director’s discretion, that information can be disseminated through various divisions,” Bowie told the commission. McCraw then voiced the words of approval.

A DPS spokesperson confirms the agency will now begin looking for opportunities on social media to talk more about gun safety.

“Additionally, the department is looking at adding the DPS “Proper Firearm Storage to Prevent Theft & Accidental Injury to a Child” information in its driver license offices as well as other efforts to further disseminate this educational information across the state,” wrote communications director Katherine Cesinger.  

Many people don’t realize there are fines for not properly securing a firearm. Anyone caught with a gun that is not locked up or secured who has children can receive a $500 fine.

If a child uses an unsecured firearm to seriously injure or kill someone, the gun owner can get up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

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