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WSP office offers free gunlocks
Some children might view a gun as the ultimate toy.
Guns are featured prominently in cartoons and movies. When they see an unsecured gun in their home, children might mistake the real thing for a plaything.
So what can parents do to make sure their firearm is secure? The easiest answer is to keep the firearm unloaded and locked up in a safe place, far away from ammunition.
But if a gun safe is too expensive, the Washington State Patrol is offering free gunlocks capable of securing firearms so they cannot be used even if loaded as part of Project HomeSafe.
State Patrol Trooper Glen Tyrrell said 400 of the locks were allocated to the local WSP district and are available during regular business hours.
Due to the limited number available, no more than two gunlocks will be given to a household, Tyrrell said. There arent that many, but there will be 400 safer guns out there.
Project HomeSafe was developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade association based in Newton, Conn. The foundation promotes gun safety through educational programs and by distributing gunlocks to states.
It is funded by the NSSF and a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justices Bureau of Justice Assistance, according to project director Dee Dee Sarff.
To date, weve distributed 800,000 locks nationwide since 1999, Sarff said. Its hard to measure how many children are killed each year in accidental shootings, but we know that the number of children killed by an unloaded and locked gun is zero.
In a 1998 Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District survey, 37 percent of Kitsap residents said they owned a handgun, rifle or shotgun.
The main reason people said they had a gun was for hunting and sports, health department statistician Hilary Watkins said. That was followed by home protection.
There have been two accidental gun deaths in Kitsap County since 1997, according to county Coroners Office records. Nine people were hospitalized for accidental shooting injuries in Kitsap between 1997 and 1999, according to Watkins.
The lock, which Sarff said would retail for about $10 each, consists of a vinyl-covered steel cable with one end secured to a keyed padlock. When properly installed, the lock prevents the firing mechanism from operating on most revolvers, rifles, shotguns and semi-automatic handguns.
Its very simple to operate, Tyrrell said. Thats why only the gun owner should have control of the keys.
We believe that most responsible gun owners will want to take advantage of this program, Sarff said, adding that each lock comes with literature on how parents can talk to their children about gun safety.
We encourage a safe strategy in the home for gun owners, Sarff said. Firearms need to be kept separate from its ammunition and they need to be made inaccessible from others while in the home.
In the 1998 health district survey, 20 percent of those who identified themselves as gun owners said they had a loaded and unlocked firearm in their home.
This project is endorsed by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, whose office is distributing 60,000 gunlocks state-wide through the Washington State Patrol.
This is not a Second Amendment issue, Owen said in a press release. This is solely a safety issue. We believe we have a responsibility to do everything within our power to keep our children safe from harm, and if we can prevent even one accidental discharge of a gun, then these locks have fulfilled their purpose.
Sarff praised Owens support of the program.
We are pleased that Washington is making gun safety a No. 1 priority, Sarff said.