June marks the beginning of National Safety Month, and Oklahoma City police are hoping to raise awareness about gun safety in the home.
Oklahoma City partnered with the federal justice department to provide gun locks free to anyone who needs them. The agency has 10,000 locks to donate, and police want to make sure guns are secured to protect kids.
Capt. Paco Balderrama said a simple lock can mean the difference between life and death if a gun gets into the wrong hands.
“Just this last weekend we had a two-year-old who shot himself in the head by accident,” he said, “and a couple days ago…we had a 13-year-old who also shot themselves in another part of the state, so we know that this happens.”
The federal government dedicated $2.4 million to Project ChildSafe, which has now grown to more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide. The goal is to secure every gun in the country when it is not in use, aiming for zero gun accidents.
“A lot of the guns that we have here in Oklahoma are actually second-hand guns and people buy them at gun shows,” said Balderrama, “so they don’t come equipped with a gun lock.”
Balderrama says critics have argued that guns are for self-defense and need to be loaded at all times, and some believe educating kids about the dangers of firearms should be sufficient to keep them safe. With two gun accidents in the past week, however, one of those fatal, police say teaching kids safety only goes so far.
“You have to really weigh what’s more important,” said Balderrama, “the safety of children or the off-chance that somebody is going to break into your house?”
These gun locks are available at every Oklahoma City police station and many officers travel with them in their patrol cars. “At this point anybody who wants one can come and get one,” said Balderrama.
To learn more about Project ChildSafe, click here.