With children spending more time at home during summer vacation and continuing concerns about community gun violence, Ramsey County officials announced Wednesday that they are reactivating a free gun lock program.
Gun locks can be picked up at locations across the district.
“If a child accidentally grabs a firearm, a gun lock can be the difference between life and death,” said Sarah Holly, Ramsey County Public Health Director, St. Paul, St. Paul.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said nationwide, there are regular, but preventable shootings of children with unsafe guns. Prosecutors in Hennepin County recently charged the parents of a 3-year-old boy with child endangerment after he was seriously injured in a shooting and a gun was found in the couch cushion of the family’s Minneapolis home .
Choi said he wants to see the tragedies averted before his office reaches the point of the cases imposed, and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office is funding gun locks that have been available to community members since 2016.
Locks are made of cables and can be used to secure a handgun, rifle or shotgun. They can be picked up at 13 locations — the county attorney’s office distributed locks for the first time on Wednesday at county service centers in St. Paul, Roseville and Maplewood; They have stopped distribution in some places with low demand. They are providing 1,000 additional locks.
‘Responsibility to avoid tragedies’
Last year and 2020 were record-setting years for the number of permits to carry a firearm issued in the state.
Ramsey County Board Chair Trista Matascastillo said, “Everyone who wants to own a firearm has a responsibility to avoid unnecessary tragedies in their own home and reduce the ways in which other guns contribute to violence in our community. “
MatasCastillo, Choi and Hollie spoke Wednesday in support of federal and state legislation to expand background checks and invest in violence prevention and mental health services.
“We have witnessed each new incident across the country in the magnitude of the moment and then as we move on, some of us even forget the deaths and injuries that occurred less than a year ago at Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul. There were mass shootings,” Matascastillo said. “We are indebted to the victims and survivors of these tragedies to not let this happen again, and to act now.”
According to the police department, 112 people were injured or killed in gun attacks in St. Paul this year, compared to 95 at this time last year.
Educating about safe gun storage
At the Haley Q Brown Center in St. Paul, one of the gun lock distribution sites, people have been appreciative that they are available, said Jonathan Palmer, the center’s executive director.
“This is an important initiative,” Palmer said. “People picking them up isn’t a daily occurrence like it used to be when it first started, but we do get a few people per month.”
Prevention is the principle behind the Ramsey County Gun Safety Initiative. People can pick up gun locks at Ramsey County locations with “no questions asked,” Holly said.
As a parent, Holly said she knows children to “carefully observe and model everything we do,” so “it should come as no surprise that recent research has found evidence of gun possession.” included interviews with parents who … where their parents kept guns. Education is important to prevent children from having access to open guns.”
The Department of Public Health works to educate people about firearm safety in homes where children live or visit, including keeping guns close and safe and keeping ammunition separate.
Information about pick-up sites for free gun locks can be found at bit.ly/RamseyCogunlocks. County officials ask that people call a site before leaving and do not bring a firearm with them.