Following is an open letter we recently emailed to all members of the Arizona House of Representatives, inviting them to join us in support of Christian’s Law.
Our son Christian died here in Arizona on September 5, 2021, from an unintentional gunshot while staying the night at a friend’s house. This has been a devastating loss for our family, as we know Christian’s death was preventable, if only the gun had been properly secured. We know we can’t bring Christian home, but we can help protect the next child and family from suffering such a preventable tragedy.
We understand that guns are an emotional issue in America. We believe that gun owners can be required to properly secure their firearms without infringing on anyone’s right to own one. To put this into perspective, here are a few facts we ask you to consider as we discuss passing Christian’s Law (HB2192) here in Arizona:
- Guns are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States of America, and more than 6,000 children were injured or killed from guns in 2022.
- In 2021, 56 Arizona children died from a gun. Arizona’s Annual Child Fatality Review Report showed guns were a leading cause of death for children, and 100% of these deaths were deemed to be preventable, which includes Christian’s.
- In the 2022/23 school year, there have been multiple incidents of children bringing guns to school, including at least two incidents where elementary school students brought loaded handguns in their backpacks (link, link). If this pattern continues, we are just one small step away from a devastating school tragedy.
- The non-partisan Rand Corporation’s report: The Science of Gun Policy found the following:
- We find supportive evidence, our highest evidence rating, that child-access prevention (CAP) laws, or safe storage laws, reduce self-inflicted fatal or nonfatal firearm injuries, including unintentional and intentional self-injuries, among youth. In this update to our review, there is also supportive evidence that these laws reduce suicides among young people, supportive evidence that such laws reduce firearm homicides among young people, and moderate evidence that they reduce firearm suicides for this group. There is also supportive evidence that the CAP laws reduce unintentional firearm injuries and death among children, and limited evidence that they reduce unintentional firearm injuries among adults. Recommendation: States without CAP laws should consider adopting them as a strategy to reduce total and firearm suicides, unintentional firearm injuries and deaths, and firearm homicides.
My wife Claire and I have decided that we can’t stand idly by when we know so many children live in homes with access to unsecured guns. Children are innocent, curious, impetuous, and loved. They are developing and learning. They will make mistakes. They will get do-overs…until they don’t. This is why we have partnered with Representatives Jennifer Longdon and Jennifer Pawlik to pass Christian’s Law here in Arizona. This law will help save lives by protecting and preventing children and teenagers from gaining unauthorized and unsupervised access to guns.
Please don’t think this can’t happen to you. That was our mistake. I ask you to look in the eyes of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and any other children in your life, and then ask yourself, “Could it happen to them?” The answer is, unfortunately, yes.
We invite you to partner with us to pass Christian’s Law, which we know will limit children’s and teens’ access to unsecured guns and ultimately save lives. We will reach out to schedule time with you to share more of Christian’s story and discuss Christian’s Law.
We look forward to working with you.
Bruce and Claire Petillo
Christian’s Dad and Mom (forever 15)