Honor Baby Braylon: 4 Easy, Effective Ways You Can Help Prevent More Child Shooting Deaths
By Mimi Plevin-Foust, Vice President, God Before Guns
One year ago, Braylon Robinson, an adorable one-year-old, was accidentally shot to death by his three-year-old cousin here in Cleveland the Sunday after Easter-- all because someone left an unsecured, loaded gun in his home. Braylon’s death made international news, then was forgotten by seemingly everyone but his family. Yet the scars left by gun violence (literal and emotional) stretch from sea to shining sea in our uber-gun-friendly country.
Numbing and overwhelming as this issue is, I’ve tried to use my skills to find ways to make a difference. I list them as a jumping-off point for ideas you might have for yourself, then I list 5 easy, effective steps you can take today.
As a poet, I wrote the poem I’m sharing here.
As a freelance writer, I created gun safety tips takeaway cards which are now being distributed all over Cleveland with the help of God Before Guns, a multi-faith coalition working to reduce gun injuries and deaths that I’m proud to be a part of. The cards share concrete actions each of us can take to keep our families and communities safer, no matter how lame your legislators happen to be. (More on this below….)
I’ve called, emailed and visited the Ohio Statehouse to urge them to improve Ohio’s Child Access Prevention laws.
Please take a minute to read the poem, then consider acting on the tips that follow to prevent this kind of tragedy from tearing apart the lives of anyone you know.
Almost a Poem About Shopping
I am trying not to write a poem about the one-year-old who was killed by the three-year-old two days ago in my fair city of Cleveland— all because someone left a loaded gun in a house full of kids.
I would rather write a poem about shopping. People might enjoy a poem about shopping.
If I wrote a poem about the joys and challenges of shopping, no one would have to read that Braylon Robinson—a baby boy who was “always smiling”— died in the ambulance after being shot in the head.
If I wrote a poem about how hard it is not to buy all the colorful dipping bowls at Target, then I would not have to remember that Braylon’s mother will never get to buy him a little backpack for his first day of school.
I wonder what kind of poem might soothe the heartache of a nation trapped in an undeclared war where too many of us have loved someone who was shot?
What kind of poem could stop that heartbreak? I would like to write it.
Braylon’s mother will never get to celebrate his second birthday. But each of us can do one thing today to make our homes and communities safer for children. Here’s how:
1) Learn the 5 critical gun safety tips that can help protect you, your family and community from gun violence at Gun Safety Tips Everyone Must Know. Request free gun safety tips takeaway cards for schools, community centers and businesses from firstname.lastname@example.org. About 15,000 of these cards have already been distributed around Cleveland but they’d be useful anywhere, whether or not anyone in your own household has a firearm.
2) Always ask if there is a gun in another family’s home and, if so, how it is secured before sending your child over to play or your teen to a party. If you have doubts, invite the kids to play at your house. (Though most parents, grandparents and friends believe their weapons are safely hidden, studies show that children as young as 3 know where to find them and how to use them, resulting in 80-100 accidental child murders and 3,000 injuries nationwide each year.)
3) If you own a gun, secure it: Keep the gun unloaded and locked up with ammunition in a separate lockbox, and keep the keys with you at all times. It will take less than a minute or two to unlock and load if needed.
When handling or cleaning your gun, always check to be sure there’s no bullet in the chamber and never leave it unattended, even for a minute.
Make sure that no one who is staying or living with you is keeping an unsecured firearm in your house.
4) Find out if your state has good Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws on the books by visiting everytown.org/…. (Ohio doesn’t.) When enforced, such laws have been proven to significantly reduce accidental child shooting deaths. If you’re in Ohio, join Ohioans working to pass these sensible laws. Learn more at Ohioans for Safe Communities. The more voices who speak up for this type of commonsense legislation, the more likely it is to eventually become law.
Let’s honor Braylon, a sweet little boy whose life was cut short, by acting now to prevent more senseless tragedies killing and maiming the children and teens we love.
Have you ever asked if another family owns a firearm and how it is secured before allowing your child or teen to go spend time there?
What have you already done to make a difference and what are you considering? If you haven’t done anything yet, what’s stopping you?
Please share this post and your ideas for taking action on this issue in the comments. Thank you.