ASK campaign: Normalizing checking gun storage where kids visit

Parents who’ve experienced the worst loss are encouraging other parents to have a tough conversation about guns.

The national ASK campaign is designed to normalize parents asking about gun safety at homes where their kids spend time.

Ethan Miller Song had just turned 15 and had his braces taken off the very day he went to play at his best friend’s house and never came home.

"So that began, you know, our life sentence," said his mother, Kristin Song.

She has grieved for six years now, but through the tears, she’s made a mission out of preventing similar tragedies.

Ethan was accidentally shot while he and his friend played with an unsecured gun.

It’s a familiar story.

Just last month, St. Paul police arrested a man at this apartment complex for negligent firearm storage after a 13-year-old girl got a gun and shot and killed an 11-year-old boy.

My sons no longer have their father," said Hilary Brasel, of St. Paul. "I no longer have my husband."

Like Kristin Song before her, Brasel shared her story with the Minnesota legislature this year.

Burglars shot and killed her husband, Michael, as the popular coach and father of two tried to stop the crime outside his home.

"The gun they used to murder Michael was stolen from a family member of one oaf the young men as it was not properly stored by the gun owner," Brasel said.

"All of these situations could be dramatically changed if people just secured their weapons," Song said. "It's that simple."

The Brady Campaign is hoping to help parents have a little power through their Asking Saves Kids Campaign.

They want to normalize initiating a conversation about safe storage with people whose homes your kids visit.

"This isn't accusatory," said Colleen Creighton, End Family Fire senior director. "It's not, you know, if you have a gun in the home, that's it. You know, my child is not going to play in your home."

The conversation may seem steeped in politics, but advocates hope it gets easier over time in the same way talking about mental health has.

And as difficult as it may have been, Song says she’s never forgiven herself for not asking.

"You know, difficult is burying your child," said Song. "So you should be unapologetic about asking another parent who is now taking responsibility for your child in their home any question you want. It may be uncomfortable for you to have that conversation for two minutes. But you do not want a lifetime of hell because this is what it's like to live without your child."

ASK Day is Friday and parents can find resources here.