Tonia Castaneda didn’t want to wait around to hear the next story about gun violence involving children.
“I always felt like there was something more I should be doing,” says Castaneda. As a mother of two, child safety is an issue near and dear to her heart. “I sought out what I could do and found Be SMART.”
This January, Castaneda became co-leader of the Springfield chapter of Be SMART, an organization focusing on educating adults about gun safety around children. Many gun safety organizations are geared toward educating children, but Be SMART believes it is adults’ responsibility to keep children safe, rather than placing the burden of responsibility on the children.
“[Gun violence] can impact all families, regardless of race, demographic, ethnic background,” Castaneda says.
Unintentional gun injuries and deaths are common throughout the United States, including Missouri. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, firearms are the number one killer for children under 17—a fact Be SMART hopes to change through education. Be SMART provides gun locks, information and resources to firearm owners.
“Instances of gun violence against children and teens can be prevented with secure firearm storage,” Castaneda says. “We want to make our community a safer community.”
Be SMART is a nonpartisan volunteer-based organization. They are always looking for more people to help further their mission.
“The more people involved, the more effective and impactful our message is,” Castaneda says. “It’s about protecting and ensuring our children are safe. I think we can all agree on that.”
Currently, Springfield Be SMART is running a safety campaign with daycare and early child learning centers to make gun safety resources available to their clients. In the future, they hope to provide education within the public school system.
For those wanting to get involved, Be SMART mans education tables around the community, gives safety presentations and hosts bimonthly meetings.
More information is available at everytown.org or by email at email@example.com.