Mayor Bill Finch and the chief executives of Waterbury, Stratford and Fairfield today launched the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe gun-safety program in their cities, calling on gun owners to prevent firearm misuse and accidents by storing their guns securely away from children, at-risk individuals and persons legally prohibited from possessing a firearm.
At a press conference, Finch said that to help prevent guns from falling into the hands of unauthorized persons, especially children, Project ChildSafe firearm safety kits will be distributed free of charge to gun owners. The safety kits, which include a cable-style gun lock and a safety brochure that explains safe storage options, have been provided free of charge by the NSSF, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry.
Joining Finch in announcing this regional gun safety initiative were Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, Stratford Mayor John Harkins, Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. and NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti.
Bridgeport, Waterbury, Fairfield and Stratford have received a total of 2,500 firearm safety kits and additional safety materials such as child safety pledges to distribute to firearms owners.
Project ChildSafe, a program developed by the NSSF, has provided 36 million free firearm safety kits to gun owners through partnerships with law enforcement agencies since 2003. The program, which had received millions in funding through U.S. Department of Justice grants between 2002 and 2008, is today solely funded by the firearms industry.
“Promoting safe storage and handling of firearms has been a priority of the firearms industry for over a hundred years and continues today through Project ChildSafe,” said Sanetti. “We thank Mayor Finch, Mayor O’Leary, Mayor Harkins, First Selectman Tetreau and Police Chief Gaudett for their leadership in helping to raise awareness about preventing unauthorized access to firearms and for making the distribution of free firearm safety kits possible in their communities.”
Sanetti noted that nearly all firearm accidents in the home can be prevented when gun owners take a few simple precautions to prevent a child or other unauthorized person from getting their hands on a firearm. Precautions include storing firearms unloaded in a locked gun safe, lock box or storage case when not in use. A gun-locking device can be used as an additional safety precaution. Ammunition should be stored in a locked location separate from firearms.
“We encourage residents to pick up a Project ChildSafe safety kit so that they can learn about the options they have to properly and securely store their firearms at home,” said Sanetti.
By partnering with Project ChildSafe, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stratford and Fairfield are participating in a national effort to promote firearms safety education to all gun owners. Project ChildSafe has distributed gun lock safety kits to all 50 states and the five U.S. territories.
Fatal firearms accidents in all age groups have dropped by 22 percent during the 10 years Project ChildSafe has been in effect, and now are involved in less than 1 percent of all fatal accidents nationwide and in Connecticut.
“With the launch of Project ChildSafe, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stratford and Fairfield have taken an important step forward in helping to ensure that all firearm owners fully understand their responsibilities with respect to the safe handling and secure storage of firearms,” said Sanetti.
Gun owners can learn more about safe handling of firearms and about safe storage practices that can help prevent access by unauthorized persons at www.projectchildsafe.org and www.nssf.org/safety. Firearm safety information is available in Spanish as well English on both websites.
Image courtesy NSSF