On Nov. 18, both Bristol Virginia and Bristol Tennessee City Schools notified parents of a potential threat on the safety of schools. Their due diligence and transparency in communicating what they knew, what they didn’t know and what they were doing, in cooperation with local law enforcement, is laudable. Yet there is more we can do to help protect our children, teachers and officers.

Let’s all look at home and remember, especially in the midst of hunting season, that 4.6 million children live in homes where firearms are both loaded and unlocked. Every year, nearly 600 children 17 and under die by suicide with a gun. In Tennessee, firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens.

I have recently learned about a wonderful program, called Be SMART. The acronym SMART stands for 1) Secure guns at home and in your car, 2) Model responsible behavior around guns, 3) Ask about guns in other homes, just like asking if there are pets or a pool, 4) Recognize the role of guns in suicide, and finally, 5) Tell your peers to Be SMART.

This is not about the Second Amendment. It is about personal responsibility, community safety and preventable deaths.

As we approach the holiday season, when deaths by suicide and gun deaths occur more frequently, it is more important than ever to Be SMART.

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