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NEWS | Feb. 15, 2017

Gun locks provide additional safety

By Bob Trout, chief, plans and programs section 628th Security Forces Squadron

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will hold a gun sale on February 23, 2017, between 11 am and 1 pm at the Main Exchange here. Personnel from the 628th Security Forces Squadron will distribute security locks for weapons to any interested parties. Additionally, anyone can visit the Security Forces buildings (building 254 on the Air Base or building 1978 on the Weapon Station) and request a free gun lock.

Every year, firearms cause thousands of unintentional deaths and injuries. Recent research on unintentional shooting deaths found such shootings, “occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities.” Nevertheless, between 1999 and 2010, over 8,300 unintentional shooting deaths were reported in the United States, including 2,383 children and young people under the age of 21. On average, over 16,000 individuals in the United States are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for unintentional gunshot wounds. A 1991 study found that 8% of accidental shooting deaths resulted from shots fired by children under the age of six.

A 2005 study on adult firearm storage practices in U.S. homes found over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms. In addition, 73% of children under age 10, living in homes with guns, reported knowing the location of their parents’ firearms.

The U.S. General Accounting Office has estimated 31% of accidental deaths caused by firearms might be prevented by the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock and a “loading indicator,” a safety device showing whether a firearm is loaded and if a round remains in the chamber. A study released in 2005 found the practices of keeping firearms locked, unloaded and stored separately from ammunition serve as a “protective effect.” Such efforts may assist in reducing youth suicide and unintentional injury in homes with children and teenagers where guns are stored.

Finally, it is important to note, researchers have shown that laws requiring use of gun locks are effective at preventing suicides and saving lives.