Columbus police encourage gun owners to get gun locks to prevent tragedies

After a five-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the head, the Columbus police department is implementing an extra cautionary step

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Most homes in Mississippi have guns whether for hunting, protection, or both. Some people are trained and keep their firearms locked away; however, a gun left out can be deadly. Nationwide Children’s Hospital reports 1,300 children die each year in the U.S. from similar situations, and that is why Columbus police are making a push to give away gun locks.

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“We’re not against legal gun owners having guns we just want them to be safe with it,” said Columbus police chief Fred Shelton.

It happens more than you might think. Adults leave a gun where it can accidentally end up in a child’s hands. After a five-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the head, the Columbus police department is implementing an extra cautionary step.

“If the weapon is not being used and you’re not being threatened and you just got it laying around the house for protection then simply put this gun lock on it especially if you have small children,” said Shelton.

Shelton said gun locks are easy to use, but he said the first step in gun ownership is to learn how to safely use a weapon.

“I would suggest that you go get with your local police department and let them give you a class on how to properly loa your weapon, unload your weapon, and actually go down to the range and fire a few rounds through that weapon. Then once you learn how to use it properly then you need to learn how to properly store it,” said Shelton.

The department teaches adults safety rules on using the gun and tries to prevent gunshot cases with children and untended guns.

“What we teach on the range you know about firearm safety keeping your hand off the trigger and certain things as far as with an adult, but we have had cases here and around the world where the kid finds the gun and that’s an unfortunate situation,” said firearm instructor Eric Lewis.

Unfortunately, Lewis has seen several children die or be severely injured with guns, and he felt it stemmed from toy guns being widely used and kids’ curiosity.

“So many guns that can be bought from Walmart and places that are toys and they’ll pick it up thinking it’s just a toy and the next thing you know something you know dangerous happens or something you know we can’t reverse,” said Lewis.

Any weapon can be used for protection but police remind owners to put their family’s safety first.

“A lot of people carry guns for safety reasons for safety measures, but it’s very important to make sure that you pay attention to make sure what you do with that gun at all times that gun is a deadly weapon,” said Lewis.

Chief Shelton said the gun locks are free all you have to do is come to the police department and ask for it, but they are limited to one person per household.