Preventing accidents involving children and firearms may be as easy as getting and using a free cable gun lock from local law-enforcement agencies.
A new shipment of locks was delivered to the Craig Police De--partment, Moffat County Sher-iff's Office and the Colorado State Patrol on Tuesday as part of a national gun safety program called Project ChildSafe.
Last year, about 1,000 locks were given to local law-enforcement officials, who have distributed many of the locks at various functions.
"Most accidents can be avoided if people follow safety rules," said Jay Drangeid, firearms safety coordinator for the nonprofit group that is funded in part by the Department of Justice. "We never know how effective the project is because it's a preventive measure."
The basic idea of the program is to prevent children from having access to firearms, he said.
Drangeid said accidental deaths caused by the misfiring of firearms top about 600 each year in the United States.
The locks come in a kit that includes a cable, a padlock and information about how to lock up various firearms. The cable is threaded through a firearm's chamber, rendering the gun inoperable.
Anyone, even those who don't have children of their own can receive a gun lock at the Moffat County Public Safety Center, said Sgt. Bill Leonard with the Craig Police Department.
That may mean grandparents who expect to have children visit or child-care providers who regularly have children in their homes, he said.
"You don't have to have kids to get a lock," Leonard said. "People can come in and get one under any circumstance. It's not like we make people fill out an application to get one."
Leonard said it's the parents' personal choice whether to lock up a gun.
However, parents should explain gun -afety rules to their children and practice safe habits, such as storing loaded weapons in an area not accessible to children, he said.
Law enforcement officials provide several gun safety programs to students at area schools through an Eddie Eagle program.
Leonard said the program stresses that children should not handle firearms they find.
Though law enforcement officials encourage parents to use the locks, it remains a personal decision.
"It's up to the parents," Leonard said. "I can give them a free gun lock, but it's up to the parents to use it."
More information about the gun-lock program is online at www.projectchildsafe.com.
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org