AURORA | The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office distributed over 300 free gun locks to families in the Cherry Creek School District earlier this month, a partnership so successful that it placed an order for hundreds more.
“I think it’s been a wildly successful endeavor,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown told the Sentinel.
Brown said the school district reached out to the Sheriff’s Office after an educator inquired whether it had any gun locks it could distribute.
The Sheriff’s Office receives cable gun locks for free from the National Shooting Sports Federation, and had a number on hand.
“My belief is they don’t do us any good sitting in storage,” Brown said.
The Sheriff’s Office gave the school district several hundred to distribute, which Cherry Creek made available in the entryways of schools along with pamphlets about how to use the locks, which work on a variety of firearms.
Cherry Creek Superintendent Chris Smith announced the distribution in an email to district families, where he said there would be a “no questions asked” policy when distributing the locks. Smith cited rates of suicide deaths by firearm as a particular impetus for the program.
“Responsible and safe gun storage in the home can save lives,” Smith said in the email. “A state gun storage law took effect July 1, 2021, that requires Colorado gun owners to securely store their firearms when not in use to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users.
Any single step we can take to prevent suicide and save a life is a step worth taking.”
The “Safe Storage of Firearms” law passed by the Colorado legislature requires that firearms “responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users.”
Brown said that safe storage is particularly important for gun owners with children, and that it’s important to have conversations with kids that if they see a firearm, not to touch it or pick it up.
“Kids are naturally curious,” he said. “If they do pick it up the likelihood of something going wrong is partially negated through having the lock on the firearm.”
A survey published last week found that one in four Colorado teens said they could easily get access to a firearm.
Cherry Creek school board member Angela Garland discussed the program at the board’s March 13 meeting, where she mentioned that firearms are currently the leading cause of death for children in the U.S.
“Every year, we lose students and staff in the Cherry Creek School District to gun violence, including suicides by firearm,” she said.
The Sheriff’s Department has placed an order for 500 more gun locks, and Brown said he’s open to distributing more through Cherry Creek and any other local school districts that would be interested. He likes the program because he sees it as applicable to everyone.
“It’s not a pro-gun, it’s not an anti gun” policy, Brown said. “It’s just if you have a gun, be responsible in how you store it.”
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