Law enforcement targets gun safety by distributing free locks

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Law enforcement agencies in Moffat County will soon get a shipment of gun locks to distribute free to the community.

The Craig Police Department, Moffat County Sheriff's Office, and Colorado State Patrol Troop 4B will receive the locks next week as part of a national gun safety program called Project Childsafe. Colorado will distribute 360,500 free gun locks. Twenty million locks will be shipped nationwide.

The locks come in a kit that includes a cable, a padlock, and information about how to lock up different kinds of firearms. The locks can render many types of firearms inoperable, according to Project Childsafe.

Craig Police got about 200 locks last year, said Sgt. Bill Leonard. This year, the program seems to be growing in the state and across the country, Leonard said. And since all three agencies at the Moffat County Public Safety Center will have free locks to give out, "It looks like we'll have more than enough for the community," Leonard said.

The basic idea of the program is to prevent children from having access to firearms, Leonard said.

Often, grandparents use the locks to temporarily lock up firearms when grandchildren are visiting.

Parents who feel it's necessary to keep a loaded gun in the house for protection probably won't want to lock the gun up. Leonard admitted that it's a dilemma. Still, those families need to develop their own systems for gun safety. In his house, Leonard said loaded weapons are stored in locations not accessible to children.

And even if one weapon is kept loaded and stored in a safe place, people who own multiple firearms can lock up the ones that aren't being used.

Project Childsafe recommends a few basic gun safety rules, such as storing ammunition and guns separately and treating every gun as if it was loaded.

Leonard advises parents to speak with children about guns so that they're not a complete mystery if children happen to see one.

"It's one of those things I don't think we should keep from kids," Leonard said.

According to a report by the National Rifle Association, "Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective than just ordering him or her to 'Stay out of the gun closet,' and leaving it at that. Such statements may just stimulate a child's natural curiosity to investigate further."

With his own children, Leonard said he's frank about the consequences. His children know that guns can be deadly and that guns can go off when people don't mean to fire them.

"I guess I do get pretty blunt with them because I want to stress that guns can go off accidentally," Leonard said.

Leonard recalled an incident in which stolen guns were dumped along a local roadside. Fortunately, the weapons were discovered first by an adult, but Leonard knows he can't predict when and where his children may find a firearm.

Whether his children are at home or at a friend's house or out riding their bikes, they know that if they see a gun, they should leave the gun alone, leave the location and notify an adult.

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.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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