Oakland County gun owners can get free firearm locks

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Gun owners can get free locks for their weapons as part of the “Lock-It-Up Oakland” gun safety program, authorities announced Tuesday.

The 4,000 locks will be available at 30 police departments in the county beginning Friday, which is Support Gun Safety Awareness Day.

Since 2014, more than 10,000 gun locks have been distributed in Oakland County courtesy of Project ChildSafe/National Shooting Sports Foundation with the help of police. Oakland County has 79,000 concealed pistol licenses, the second highest in Michigan, according to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

National statistics indicate 62 children are fatally shot every year, two-thirds of them in homes or vehicles where guns weren’t properly stored and secured.

“These tragedies are entirely preventable ... lives can be saved,” said County Commissioner Marcia Gershenson, D-Bloomfield Hills, who noted there have been 23 shootings involving toddlers reported nationally this year.

Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins, who demonstrated the relative ease of securing a firearm and making it inoperative with the lock, described the Lock-It-Up Oakland program as a “key, key safety initiative.”

“We can’t allow one child to stumble across a firearm and hurt him or herself,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins added adults who might pick up a locked weapon in anger during a dispute will need “precious seconds” to find a key and unlock the weapon. In that time, rational thinking may override anger, Hawkins said.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said use of locks is a public safety issue.

“I’m a big believer in the Second Amendment (right to bear arms) but with great rights come personal responsibilities,” said Bouchard, who said gun owners need to secure their weapons with locks and if possible, inside safes.

Toward that end, Bouchard announced Safes & Guns Unlimited in Keego Harbor and Dunham’s sporting good stores were offering 15 percent off gun safes through June 21 as part of the program.

For information about the giveaway program, participating agencies or gun safety go to www.oakgov.com/boc or LockItUpOakland.com.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319