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When I was young, we had a young man who was a neighbor who suffered from schizophrenia. For some reason, he did not drive and walked miles from where we lived out in the country to go into our small town. My mom took pity on him and would offer him rides into town whenever she would see him walking.

One day he began suffering from paranoid delusions. He thought my family was burning down his house. Luckily, he called the police to tell them and to advise them that he was going to murder us. My parents were out at dinner and I was home alone with a babysitter. The police caught him in our driveway with a shotgun. I am very lucky to be alive today. I am grateful that he called the police. He was sentenced to a mental institution for many years and we were alerted when he was released. We were caught in his paranoid delusions simply because my mother took pity on him and gave him rides into our town.

Obama should call on all American gun owners to take extra precautions today. Advise gun owners to take every precaution to make themselves 100% sure that their children of any age cannot access their weapons.  Assume your child is always trying to access your weapons.

My father, who was a prosecuting attorney at the time, was given a handgun for protection when I was very young. He kept it in a metal key-locked box hidden in his closet. We did not know he had a gun. One day, while playing in his closet and looking for secret treasures, we found the locked box hidden and, out of curiosity, wanted to know what was hidden in it. We searched the house endlessly until we found the key that fit the box and secretly opened the box, finding the gun. Luckily, we just looked at the weapon and then locked the box back up and put it away. Thereafter, we would occasionally secretly get the hidden key and unlock the hidden box to show our friends the handgun.

My parents never knew that we did this. They thought they had safely kept the gun in the house. We were little girls and were just curious about the weapon -- it was forbidden and dangerous and that made us really want to access it. I know if it were my boys, who are gun obsessed from video games, they may not have just let the gun lay in the box. I often think about this and wonder how you can ever keep a gun safely in the house?

I tell this story to make every American gun owner rethink how safely they are storing their weapons. Today, take extra care. The only way to be safe is to assume that your children are secretly trying to open the hidden locked box. Don't be foolish...my parents, who still don't know the truth, would probably swear today that they had safely kept their gun.

Assume your child is taking extraordinary measures to get to your weapon. The truth is that they are. Kids are very curious about the forbidden. Find a away to be 100% sure that there is no way your curious child can get their hands on your gun. A hidden locked box with a hidden key is not enough. An 8 year old girl was curious enough to find the hidden box, find the hidden key, and open the box whenever she wanted to show the gun to her 8 year old friends without her parents ever knowing. If you cannot be 100% sure your kids cannot ever get their hands on your gun, store it in a secure gun facility away from home or turn the gun into authorities.

Second, Obama should say to all American gun owners with children who they suspect may have mental illness or mental disabilities, take extraordinary care today. Are you 100% sure your child you suspect may have a mental illness cannot get access to your weapons? Always assume that they are trying to access your weapons. Don't fool yourself, know that the shooter's parents in every tragedy never thought that their child could do this. They probably all thought that they were safe gun owners too. Do this now. Take extraordinary care.

Don't wait one minute. It appears that in every tragedy, access to weapons by those who were unstable or mentally ill was the cause. Today, all American gun owners can do whatever it takes to take away that access. Do it now. You have the power to prevent the next tragedy.

If you suspect that your adult child may be suffering from mental illness and owns a gun, contact authorities and ask them what can be done. If you can safely convince your adult child to give your their gun for safe keeping, do it and make sure it is completely inaccessible to your child or turn it into authorities. Do it now. Mental illness and access to weapons is a dangerous combination. You may be able to prevent the next tragedy.

And rethink owning a gun for protection. Consider giving your guns to authorities. How much protection is a gun when you have children in the house and you need to keep it securely locked away? Instead of investing in a gun, why not invest in a good security system, good dead bolt locks, a dog for protection, etc.? A bat or golf club under the bed may be better than trying to access a hidden away and locked gun in an emergency.

If you insist on owning a gun, consider storing your gun at a secure gun facility away from your home or using a combination lock instead of a key lock and make sure the combination is not written down anywhere in the house or where your child could find it and make sure the combination is nothing that they would guess. Also, never open your combination lock when they are anywhere around. Never store your guns in a glass case. Believe me, your child will try to access any guns you have in the house -- coming from a person who as a child stopped at nothing to find the hidden key and does not even care about guns. And my parents did talk to me about how dangerous guns are. Think about this today and take action now.

President Obama: talk to Americans about this today. Talk to them about things that gun owners can do right now. Talk about safe gun ownership. Tell stories like mine so parents are not fooled into thinking that they have safely stored their guns.  

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