HOUSTON – The message was clear at Congregation Beth Israel Thursday morning.
Key leaders from the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Houston, and various organizations spoke about securing firearms and keeping them out of the hands of children and criminals.
“Gun ownership in a safe manner will protect your children,” Executive Chief Matt Slinkard said.
It was part of the Houston Gun Safety Campaign and leaders are using billboards to spread the word and get people’s attention.
One of the billboards is located on Southwest Freeway at Kirkwood.
There are 40 different billboards across the city and various counties displaying the message ‘Gun Safety Saves Lives.’
Officials are also giving away 1,000 gun-safe boxes to help stop the violence.
“Over 1,000,000 guns have been stolen in the United States,” Fred Milanowski said.
Last week, 25-year-old Gendri Aguillon was accused of shooting his 4-year son.
Investigators say he mishandled his weapon and lied about how the child was injured. Thankfully, the little boy survived.
“Sixy-three people in Harris County, which is Houston, and the surrounding suburbs that were talked about, 63 people have been murdered in the first 45 days of this year. Many by gun violence,” District Attorney Kim Ogg said.
Marentha Sargent is a survivor and shared the story of her 14-year-old daughter Adrienne Lambert.
“She was always happy, and she was taken from us in Dec. of 2017. My best friend’s son accessed a firearm and he shot and killed her,” Sargent said.
Since the tragedy, Sargent says it’s been her mission to teach others how to safely secure their guns.
“It was so preventable what happened to my daughter. There was a gun safe 15 yards away from where they left their gun out,” she said. “So it’s very important for us as adults,”
Guns are now the number one cause of death for children. Seventy-six percent of school shooters get their guns from their homes or from their relative’s homes and, 5.4 million children live in homes with unsecured guns.
“Younger and younger children with access to weapons are bringing them to school. Just yesterday, the District Attorney’s Office charged someone for leaving his gun unsecured in a public place a park where a 3-year-old retrieved it and shot himself in the hand,” Ogg said.
Officials are calling for changes.
Last year, HPD says over 4,401 guns were reported stolen from vehicles.
“Everyone is stepping up to give out to the community gun safes and gun locks as well as educational material,” Councilmember Abbie Kamin said.
To learn more about the campaign visit, www.houstongunsafety.org
Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced that they will host a gun buyback on Feb. 18 at Deussen Park. The event will take place from 8 a.m. until noon.