The firearms industry’s trade association joined with Las Vegas police Saturday to highlight the importance of firearm safety.
It was a quiet conference in a small room at the Metropolitan Police Department’s headquarters, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe’s message bellows.
“We’re here today with a very simple and straightforward message,” said foundation President and CEO Steve Sanetti. “If you own a firearm, you have to respect it and secure it when it’s not in use.”
“Everyone needs reminders that just hiding a gun is not safe storage,” said foundation spokesman Bill Brassard.
The speakers recommended securing firearms unloaded in locked storage and locking up ammunition separately.
Sanetti said that last year, only 1 percent of the nation’s fatal accidents were from unintentional firearm discharges, and firearms accidents have gone down 45 percent in the last 20 years.
“That’s a great statistic, but we can do better,” Sanetti said. “Proper firearm storage is the number one way to help prevent misuse of firearms.”
Police spokesman Jose Hernandez said providing local statistics can be a challenge, because most cases of accidental firearm discharges are reported as accidents rather than crimes.
But he quickly pointed to the tragic death of 13-year-old Brooklyn Mohler, who was shot after her teenage friend found her family’s gun last year.
“My kids know there are firearms in the home. They understand,” he said. “Even with all the training I give them, I still wouldn’t be comfortable leaving them unlocked.”
“It’s important that people who own and maintain firearms know that they are responsible for keeping them out of the hands of children, the mentally incapacitated and criminals,” said police Lt. Harry Fagel.
Project ChildSafe also left a supply of the safety kits, which includes a cable lock and a fact sheet, with police. They should be available to residents of the Las Vegas Valley at their nearest command station.
Each command station has a crime prevention specialist to call for advice, and they are all firearm safety experts, Fagel said.
Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said he also wants to make the safety locks available at community meetings.
“Our kids here in Nevada are faced with so many issues,” he said. “Many of these young people don’t really realize the danger that they are in.”
“In the district that I represent, guns fall into the hands of so many irresponsible people, and I think that its time that we stop talking about it, but that we do what we’re doing here today, step up to the plate and do something about it,” Weekly said.
Since 1998, Project ChildSafe has partnered with law enforcement agencies across the nation to distribute free firearm safety kits. It has given out more than 36 million trigger locks and included about 60 million locks with new firearm purchases.
Contact reporter Wesley Juhl at firstname.lastname@example.org and (702) 383-0381. Follow him on Twitter @WesJuhl.