A lock on responsiblity

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On September 15, 2001, a 3-year-old Spotsylvania County, Va., boy shot and killed himself with a gun his father brought to the house for protection in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

On December 21, 2001, 4-year-old Eli Williams was accidentally shot and killed in his Laurel, Md., home by his 6-year old cousin. The children, who were left unattended, found a loaded .357-caliber handgun, belonging to Eli's father, under his parents' bed. The children were playing with the weapon when it went off, hitting the victim in the head, killing him instantly.

On January 26, 2002, Pierre Bouraphael, 38, was accidentally shot and killed by his 8-year-old son at their Fremont, Mass., home. The shooting occurred after Pierre's son pointed the gun at his father and it accidentally went off. The boy's uncle said that Bouraphael, an inexperienced gun owner, probably did not realize that the gun was loaded.

These tragic incidents were compiled by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence -- the same group that gave Colorado a D in January for not having strong enough gun laws on the books. One of the reasons the Brady Campaign gave Colorado low marks is because the state allows guns to be sold without child-safety locks.

Fortunately, Project ChildSafe is doing its part to ensure that such tragedies don't occur in Moffat County. Through Project Childsafe, Colorado will distribute about 360,500 free gun locks. The Craig Police Department, the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado State Patrol will receive locks to give away to gun owners. Craig Police Sgt. Bill Leonard thinks there will be more than enough for the community.

The Brady campaign posts the following statics on its Web site:

  • In 1999, 3,365 young people were killed by firearms -- nine young lives lost a day.
  • Firearms are the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle accidents) for young people 19 and under in the U.S.
  • For every child killed by gunfire, at least 4 are wounded.
  • 55 percent of all unintential shootings are committed by a child or teen.

Owning a firearm requires taking precautions, especially when children are around. If parents ae going to insist on keeping a gun in the house, they should empty it and lock it up.

Citizens can pick up free gun locks at the Public Safety Center. More information about the safety lock program is online at www.projectchildsafe.org.

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