The Shelter Island Police Department announced in December that it would make available gun locks to any owner who requested one. About 20 locks were distributed during the last few weeks, according to Chief James Read.
“We were able to provide the locks thanks to a grant from Project ChildSafe,” the chief said.Project ChildSafe is a nationwide program to help ensure safe and responsible firearms ownership and storage, developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and supported by a U.S. Department of Justice grant.
According to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, 64 pistols are licensed to Island owners in Zipcode 11964, and 20 to owners in 11965. Permits are required only for pistols. Numerous Island residents own shotguns and other long guns for hunting. The Police Department is encouraging these owners, as well as those licensed to have pistols, to take advantage of the free safety locks to protect themselves and their families.
While providing the gun locks for pistols, shotguns, revolvers and rifles, police and the ChildSafe Project stress that no firearm’s safety or lock can be a substitute for safe, careful gun handling and storage. The lock is intended to discourage unauthorized access, particularly by young children.
The Project’s literature stresses that nearly all firearms accidents in the home can be prevented simply by making sure that guns are kept unloaded and locked up, with ammunition stored in a separate location.
It is the gun owner’s responsibility to store guns, the Project emphasizes, in such a way that children cannot get access to them. Hiding a gun in a closet, drawer or similar location is not considered safe storage, particularly because children are curious and may find a gun that was believed safely hidden in the home.
In addition to the cable locks, other safety options include a trigger lock, lock box, gun safe and disassembling the guns when storing.
Parents are advised to teach their children to avoid the dangers of guns they may find in their home or a friend’s, the Project has said. Should they find a gun, the only safe action is not to touch it, leave the area and tell an adult right away.