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Gun-Safety Innovation Focus of New Campaign to End Violence

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Unsecured guns are among the top contributors to the nation's gun violence, so a coalition of public officials and law enforcement is putting out the call to create new safety technology.

Ron Hain - the sheriff of Kane County in neighboring Illinois - said of the tens of millions of gun-owning households in the U.S, fewer than half store their guns securely.

Startups in recent years have brought some potentially promising products to market - such as different kinds of personalized locks. Hain said these are being tested by law enforcement officers and firearms experts.

"We have to make guns childproof, and as accident-proof as possible," said Hain. "In an age of technological innovation, this is not an unsolvable problem."

The Gun Safety Consortium wants to see more proposals for developing new technology to help private gun owners keep their weapons secure, and help prevent gun-related crimes.

Calls like these come as cities such as Milwaukee grapple with gun violence, prompting local leaders to describe it as a public health crisis.

Hain noted about one thousand guns are stolen from private gun owners each day - and they often enter trafficking pipelines.

Jeri Bonavia is the executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort or WAVE. It isn't part of the coalition, but she agreed that - in contrast to mass shootings - suicides and day-to-day violence tend to be overlooked.

"You know, we don't talk about those," said Bonavia. "And yet, for the families where these events are happening, they are equally as tragic and equally as devastating."

DiAne Boese, spokesperson for the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign, said the consortium is asking cities across the country to commit to working to make firearms more secure - particularly large-scale gun purchasers, like police departments.

"We'll also begin work on the largest gun purchaser of all," said Boese, "the President of the United States."

By that, she meant the federal government purchases guns for the military.

According to police data, Milwaukee saw more than 190 homicides last year. Eighty-eight percent of them were shootings.

Mike Moen is the Morning Edition producer and serves as a staff reporter for WNIJ. Every morning, he works with Dan Klefstad to bring listeners the latest Illinois news. He also works with the rest of the news staff on developing and producing in-depth stories. Mike is a Minnesota native who likes movies, history, and baseball. When most people hear his last name, they assume he is 100-percent Scandinavian. But, believe it or not, he is mostly German.
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