It's a small device that can save a life. The Henry and Stark County Health Departments and First Choice Healthcare announce they now have Free Gun Locks available through their offices and clinics in Kewanee and Colona.
Health Department officials note Every Day, 64 Americans die by firearm suicide — one every 22 minutes. Also of note, households that locked both firearms and ammunition were associated with a 78 percent lower risk of self-inflicted firearm injuries and an 85 percent lower risk of unintentional firearm injuries among children and teens, compared to those that locked neither.
"These simple steps can be life saving for the adolescent or adult who reaches for a firearm in an impulsive gesture during a moment of crisis. Or for a school-age child who thinks the firearm is a toy," said RaeAnn Tucker, Director of Health Promotion with the Henry and Stark County Health Department.
The initiative, aimed at reducing the stigma of addressing gun safety, is part of a growing effort by public health and medical professionals who are treating the country’s gun violence epidemic as a public health crisis.
These gun locks are available through the Veterans Crisis Line. This is a 24/7 Confidential Crisis Support Network. Simply: Dial 988 the Press 1; or Chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat; or Text 838255.
Tucker adds, “The purpose of this program is to limit young people having easy access to guns. In addition, this initiative is being used to prevent readily accessible guns being in the hands of the wrong people or individuals in mental crisis. Therefore, we encourage family members of and those with mental health concerns to take advantage of these free gun locks.
The Health Department will also be working with other area health care professionals, law enforcement officials, mental health providers, and social service agencies to urge and help gun owners to store their weapons properly and believe safety locks, such as the ones being handed out, give people an extra layer of protection.
Residents can pick up free gun safety locks by stopping by the Henry and Stark County Health Department Offices and First Choice Healthcare clinic locations in Kewanee, 110 N. Burr Blvd; and Colona, 103 1st St., Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm.
For more information on Free Gun Safety Locks program, find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.