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The Ad Council, the nonprofit that brought us "Only YOU can prevent forest fires," "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," and those witty crash test dummies (but not the band, hmmm, mmm, mmm, mmm), launched a new public service announcement campaign yesterday aimed at reducing the insane number of kids accidentally killed or injured by guns in the home. That would be about 8 kids a day nationwide. Now if America's Responsible Gun Owners can only be convinced to think about their kids' safety in terms other than "I have a gun so my kid is safe."


The campaign, called "End Family Fire," was created to call attention to unintentional shootings resulting from firearms stored where kids can get at them. While the campaign was created with the help of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, it's not pushing any legislation on guns. It's directed at educating parents about what should be a fairly obvious fact: A gun in the top dresser drawer isn't safely hidden away, no, not even if it's under some sweaters.

Here's the first video spot, featuring a kid in pajamas asking his dad about the family gun, whose location he knows with disturbing precision. "I haven't found it yet, but I'm sure I can. You always told me to be curious. Remember when I found my Christmas gifts?" And then little Damien Justin suggests neat ways he might use it if it's not locked up, like bravely "protecting" Mom when Dad's not there. Or maybe ending his troubles if he's bullied at school.

As child actors go, this kid's pretty good. The PSA packs a lot of information into just two minutes; print ads show kids finding guns around the home, like in the garage or hidden in mom's purse. Whether the campaign will prove persuasive with gun owners remains to be seen, but since the goal is getting people to rethink their assumptions about safety, it may reach people who might be put off by a more explicitly anti-gun message.

Studies keep showing, for instance, that a gun in the home is far more likely to injure or kill a family member (including accidents and suicides) than to repel an intruder. But the campaign doesn't push back against the notion that a gun in the home protects you from "bad guys"; instead, it urges people to store those guns securely. That would be a good start, at least.

The Ad Council's campaign chose yesterday's date (8/8) to launch the campaign for the sake of numerical emphasis: eight kids a day are injured or killed by guns in the home, according to CDC data used by the Brady campaign (which includes ages up to 19, so get ready for gun humpers to complain the risk is overstated, since even The Liberal New York Times notes, "Limiting the data to those 18 and younger, the number is closer to six a day" -- a body count we can obviously live with).

The campaign has received support from a bunch of other liberal busybodies who want to take your guns away too, like the American Psychological Association, the National Association of Social Workers, Bishops Against Gun Violence and Veterans for Gun Reform, as well as families who have lost kids, like Hectore Adames of Chicago, whose 13-year-old nephew Josh, was killed in 2001 at a friend's house:

[The] friend began playing with his father's handgun. The friend removed the gun's magazine, but did not realize that a bullet remained in the chamber. He pointed the gun at Josh and fired, striking him fatally in the stomach.

Adames says he respects gun rights but also thinks gun owners have to be responsible and store their guns safely.

"I understand that families own guns because they want to protect themselves," he said. "However, if you have an irresponsible gun owner in your neighborhood, your community isn't safe."

The NRA has been fairly schizoid on the matter of gun storage -- its educational materials emphasize keeping guns locked up and educating children to stay away from guns until they're "old enough," but the group also vigorously opposes laws aimed at requiring trigger locks or safes in homes with children, because that's tyrannical and parents must be free to make their own idiot decisions about safety. As for educating children to Stop! Don't Touch! Call an Adult! when they see a gun, that Eddie Eagle message may be undercut a teensy bit by gun fans. Like all the cooing earlier this year over this adorable four-year-old at the NRA annual meeting, working a bolt action rifle like he's on top of a clock tower:

We wish the "End Family Fire" campaign success, although our favorite gun safety ad will always remain the one with the dildos:

When those go off, nobody gets hurt.

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[NYT / Ad Council]

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