COLUMBUS– State Rep. Monique Smith (D-Fairview Park) gave sponsor testimony this week before the Ohio House State and Local Committee on House Bill (HB) 360, which would designate June as Gun Violence Awareness Month.
“Gun violence is a public epidemic here in the United States with long lasting effects on victims, their families, and their communities,” said Rep. Smith. “This legislation aims to facilitate conversations to help reduce and ultimately eliminate risks for gun owners and their communities.”
June is already National Gun Violence Awareness Month, typically honored by wearing the color orange. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Smith and Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park), would make June Gun Violence Awareness Month in Ohio as well.
Statistics and studies show a large increase in suicide risk when a firearm is present in the home. This disproportionately affects men, veterans, domestic violence victims, and young adults.
Men who own handguns are eight times more likely to die of suicide by firearm than men who do not own a handgun. In addition, 64% of suicide deaths among veterans included a firearm. Sponsor testimony also highlighted the increasing problem of children dying by suicide with a firearm.
“We know children and teens are dying from suicide by firearm at the highest rate in over 20 years. In just one year from 2019 to 2020, suicide by firearm increased 31% in children ages 10 to 14. It was a 146% increase from 2011 to 2020,” said Rep. Smith.
The bill now awaits further hearings in the House State and Local Committee.