Free gun safety locks available

By Ed Brock

Sharon Harmon of Stockbridge is sending a present to her ex-husband with their children when they go to visit him this summer.

The present didn't cost Harmon a thing and it could save a life. It's a "Project ChildSafe" firearm safety kit that she picked up from the Clayton County Police Department.

"There was an incident at his home last year that kind of worried me," Harmon said.

Her sons found their father's gun in the drawer of his bedside table, Harmon said, and one son even handled the weapon. Her ex-husband is usually cautious about keeping the gun safe but it slipped his mind because the children only stay with him during the summer.

The kits, provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation that sponsors Project ChildSafe, includes a gunlock, a cable that runs through the working parts of a handgun and then locks together, completely preventing firing of the gun.

"Even though I know he now keeps the gun in a locked container, this is an added safety," Harmon said.

Project ChildSafe, in partnership in Georgia with Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, will distribute more than 500,000 of the free gunlocks to more than 360 police departments and 150 sheriff's offices around the state, according to Project ChildSafe information. Funded by a $50 million grant from the Department of Justice, Project ChildSafe, an expansion of NSSF's Project HomeSafe, plans to distribute almost 20 million gunlocks and educational material around the United States and its territories.

In 2002 Project HomeSafe distributed 2.4 million gun safety kits in 44 states.

"We are proud to say that, since its grassroots beginning in 1999, Project HomeSafe became the largest, most comprehensive firearms safety education program in the nation thanks to the enthusiastic support from high-ranking government officials and law enforcement departments across America," said NSSF President Doug Painter in a statement.

The county's police department will distribute the kits from its headquarters building on McDonough Street in Jonesboro and from its precinct buildings in the Riverdale and Lovejoy areas.

"We encourage residents to pick up a Project ChildSafe safety kits so that they can securely store their firearm," Clayton County police Capt. Jeff Turner said. "The goal is to prevent a child or any other unauthorized person from accessing a firearm in your home."

Turner said the gunlocks could also be used on most rifles and shotguns.

All of the county's municipal police departments and the Clayton County Sheriff's Office are also participating in Project ChildSafe.

John Miller of Jonesboro said he was picking up an accident report at the Clayton County Police Department when picked up one of the safety kits. He plans to give it to some friends who have guns and children.

"They may not ever use it, but it was at a good price," Miller said.