Addressing concerns about children getting their hands on unsecured guns, Memphis police are taking actions they think may help prevent even more child shootings.
In an effort to promote safe gun storage, Memphis Police are now giving away gun locks, WREG News reported. People can pick one up for free in any precinct.
On Monday, the department also held a firearms safety session to try and drive home the point that safe gun storage is a must, especially for gun owners with children.
According to a study conducted by the gun violence prevention group the Safe Tennessee Project, Tennessee and Memphis lead the country in children killed or injured by unsecured firearms. So far in 2017, there have been 20 incidents with children and negligently stored guns. Eight of those children were killed and 12 injured.
Nine of the incidents occurred in Memphis, with six children shot since June 21 and three children shot in a three day span last weekend. Those numbers make Memphis the worst city for such shootings.
“Once again, we see the tragic consequences of negligent gun storage,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for the Safe Tennessee Project. “These shootings are not accidents. They are the direct result of an adult’s choice not to properly secure their firearm. This continues to be a serious issue in our state. Yet for two years now, our legislature’s solution to the problem is to do absolutely nothing.”
Roth has worked and plans to continue to work with lawmakers to try and get legislation passed that would punish gun owners who leave their firearms unsecured around children 13 years of age or younger. So far, those efforts have failed to gain traction in the Tennessee legislature. Back in March, the proposed bill did not make it out of committee.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action has strongly opposed such bills. “This legislation is unnecessary and unenforceable in those rare cases where adults are truly negligent, the existing reckless endangerment statute is adequate,” the organization argued.
The NRA-ILA added that the solution is not more legislation but to educate children and parents about firearms safety, through such programs as Eddie Eagle GunSafe. However, Roth argued educational programs are not enough.
“It is vital that parents talk to their children about gun safety, but that is not enough. Not even close,” Roth said. “The single most important job any gun owner has is to keep their gun out of the hands of the wrong people, including and especially children. Safe storage saves lives. It would have saved the life of the 4-year-old in Memphis yesterday.”