Oakland gun owners can get free trigger locks Friday

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County officials and police announced Tuesday the distribution of 3,000 free trigger locks in recognition of Gun Safety Awareness Day later this week.

Free gun locks will be available at 30 participating departments while supplies last beginning Friday.

"These trigger locks and gun safes save lives," Commissioner William Dwyer, R-Farmington Hills, said in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium at a press conference to announce the giveaway program. "In my career I've seen too many tragedies that could have been avoided, accidents that wouldn't have happened had a gun had a lock on it or when an unsecured gun that is legally owned is stolen by a criminal and used on the street."

Dwyer, chairman of the county's Curbing Gun Violence Study Group, should know. He worked in law enforcement for 49 years in Detroit, Farmington Hills and Warren.

He ticked off sobering statistics: 62 children fatally shot every year, two-thirds of them in homes or vehicles where guns weren't properly stored and secured. Between 2005 and 2010 there were 1.4 million firearms stolen and in more than 30 percent of those incarcerated, they were in possession of stolen firearms.

Bill Brassard Jr., spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation/Project Child Safe organization in Newtown, Connecticut, said his organization has helped in distributing 36 million locks across the country since 1999.

"If you own a firearm, respect it and secure it when it's not in use," said Brassard, who encouraged the use of anything from free gun locks to $2,500 gun safes.

"Hiding a gun is not safe storage," he said.

State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, said she planned to introduce legislation in Lansing on Wednesday that would exempt gun safety devices from state sales and use taxes.

"This would make gun locks and safes more affordable and accessible for gun owners," she explained. "We hope to make Michigan the state leading the way in gun safety."

As the gun locks were picked up, many lawmen said they would be distributed quickly, beginning Friday, to people visiting their departments and requesting a free lock. Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe, whose agency patrols 15 communities under contracts, said their allotment would be "snapped up in a week."

Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko said she tries to set aside some locks for her city's largest employers and also for National Night Out this summer.

"These locks are very popular," she said. "There were 2,000 distributed last year in Oakland County, another 3,000 this summer. It all helps to make our communities safer."

For information about the giveaway program or gun safety visit www.oakgov.com/boc and click on the 2015 Partners List under the Gun Safety Lock Press Conference.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

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