Gov. Jim Doyle has joined law enforcement to launch a major firearm safety project in Wisconsin that will distribute over 465,000 free cable-style gunlocks and educational materials as part of the Project ChildSafe Program.
The goal of the program is to help make homes safer by raising awareness about responsible firearm ownership and storage, and by providing citizens with free firearms safety kits that include a gun-locking device.
"Too often, loaded firearms are not properly stored and are left in areas of the home that are accessible to children," Doyle says. "One study found that 1.4 million American homes - including 2.6 million children - had guns that were unlocked and either loaded or stored with ammunition. That's a tragedy waiting to happen.
A study by the Children's Defense Fund shows that between 1979-99, more than 10,000 children and teenagers lost their lives in gun-related accidents. In Wisconsin, between 1997-99, a dozen young men and women were killed in accidental shootings, and more than 70 used a gun to take their own life. The vast majority of guns involved in accidental shooting deaths and youth suicide come from the victim's home or the home of someone they know.
"Here in Wisconsin, we should be doing everything we can to reduce the toll that gun violence and accidents are taking on our young people," Doyle stated. "One death is too many, especially when it could so easily have been prevented. By providing free gunlocks, Project ChildSafe can keep a loaded weapon from getting into the hands of a child. It helps people, especially parents, to take sensible precautions, and to practice responsible gun ownership. Most importantly, it will help save lives."
Over the next two weeks, 210,000 free gunlocks will be distributed to police stations across the state, with more than 465,000 distributed in Wisconsin over the next year. Any citizen who is interested in acquiring a gunlock can pick one up for free at a participating police department. The Tomahawk and Merrill police departments and Lincoln County Sheriff's Department received their locks Sunday and are making preparations to distribute them soon.
We join Doyle in encouraging citizens who own firearms to stop by a participating agency and pick up a free gunlock, read the pamphlet and follow its advice.
Project ChildSafe is a nationwide program that promotes safe firearms handling and storage practices among all firearms owners through the distribution of key safety education messages and free gun locking devices. The program is supported by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and is a component of Project Safe Neighborhoods.
For more information, visit www.projectchildsafe.org.