Be SMART: Secure gun storage class at CHEC aims to save lives

If you have firearms in your home, this class could save your life. That’s the message from Be SMART volunteer Stephanie Hull. The Be SMART campaign encourages responsible gun ownership, specifically when it comes to storage.

Volunteers, including Hull, will return to Salem Health’s Community Health Education Center on Thursday, June 20, to teach the best ways to place a barrier between a firearm and anyone you do not want to use it — whether your concern is a burglar, a child or a family member having a mental health crisis.

Hull said that shooting is the most common suicide method, and Oregon’s suicide rate is above the national average. That’s why having weapons properly secured is extremely important — even in homes without young children.


The SMART way to store guns

Here’s how Be SMART defines a safety plan:

S: Secure firearms.

M: Model responsible behavior.

A: Ask about firearms when your family is in a new home.

R: Recognize the role firearms play with suicide.

T: Tell your peers to be S-M-A-R-T.


Classes help start gun safety conversations

Hull said a big part of the class is discussing strategy before visiting a new home.

“How are we going to talk to other adults about your teenagers, or your five-year-old, coming to visit?” she asked.

Hull said until you ask, it’s hard to know for sure what to expect in a new environment. In class, she illustrates how this can be folded in with other questions, including asking about pets or allergies. Be SMART works with parents who have kids of all ages to come up with ways to start the conversation.


It’s not about politics, it’s about saving lives

“When I was a young pre-teen, I found a firearm in my house, in a bag in the closet,” Hull said. Now, she teaches others a simple way to avoid such unsafe situations. At each class, Hull brings an affordable fingerprint safe to show how quickly a firearm could be accessed if needed, even when stored in a locked container.

The Be SMART team notes the focus is education.

“No politics, no legislation, any of that,” Hull said.


Upcoming 2024 classes

The next Be SMART classes are at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2024, and Thursday, Oct. 17, 2024, at the Community Health Education Center – Salem Hospital Building D, Classroom 2.