Letter: Kristin Jones, Ashburn

Editor: The Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department’s mission is “to protect the lives and property of Ashburn and Loudoun County residents and visitors by providing the best possible fire, rescue, emergency and medical response services.”

Why then would these first responders raffle off a “beautiful Beretta 686 Pigeon Silver I over-under shotgun” to raise money for the department? This is directly contrary to the department’s mission statement.

True, a background check will be performed but that isn’t really the point.

Just last week, an Ashburn man was arrested for shooting his girlfriend during an argument. The victim was held at gunpoint before she was shot. She was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and her boyfriend has been charged with malicious wounding, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony and abduction.

At least 52 percent of American women murdered with guns are killed by intimate partners or family members, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns in the U.S. than in other developed countries.

Even more alarming: In 2014 alone, 2,549 children and teens were killed by guns, according to research by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Of those, 4 percent were unintentional shootings like this one in May: An 11-year-old Roanoke boy found a discarded gun with a friend and unintentionally shot and killed himself.

Unintentional shootings don’t always result in death but in injuries that can last a lifetime. In July, a 4-year-old Norfolk boy found his mother’s handgun on a shelf in his home and shot himself in the hand. A Harvard study found that 70 percent of children living in gun-owning households knew where their parents stored them. Thirty-six percent reported that they had handled the gun without their parents knowing.

Adults unintentionally shoot themselves also. Just last week, a Sterling resident suffered a gunshot wound while unloading a handgun.

But far too many gun deaths are due to suicide, more than 21,000 a year, according to Everytown.  September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and I know Loudoun County Public Schools is committed to addressing children’s suicide.

In all of these situations, first responders were called to provide emergency and medical response services. How does Ashburn Fire and Rescue know that the beautiful Beretta 686 Pigeon Silver I over-under shotgun will not be unintentionally discharged injuring an Ashburn resident? How do they know that because of adult negligence that a child will not handle the beautiful shotgun and unintentionally shoot a friend?

There are 300 million guns in America. Why put another one out there with the chance of having to respond to an emergency medical situation later? I will buy a ticket if you stop your gun raffle.

Kristin Jones, Ashburn