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Company donates gun locks

by Merrie Leininger

Every day 14 children in America are accidentally shot and killed.

With the help of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Project Homesafe, Douglas County gun owners will now have one more option to help protect their children from becoming statistics.

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said he heard about Project Homesafe when the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department became one of the five pilot law enforcement agencies in the country to distribute free gun locks in November 1999.

The project is funded by National Shooting Sports Foundation, and project manager Melanie Alvord said 1 percent of their Heritage Fund goes to buy the $10 locks.

Alvord said Douglas County is the 11th law enforcement department in the country and the second in Nevada to distribute the locks. More than 40,000 locks have been distributed by Project Homesafe since fall 1999.

“The NSSF has been promoting safe firearms ownership for three decades now. They were focused on sport hunters but realized people who are buying handguns didn’t go through the same kind of training as hunters,” Alvord said.

DCSO reserve deputy Brian Miller, who teaches the hunter safety program, said that is also true for Douglas County.

“When we taught the handgun safety class, about half the people who came in had no idea if their gun was loaded or not and no idea how to check it. When they came in, we would check their guns for safety and about half of them would be loaded, and they didn’t even know,” Miller said.

Pierini said officers often encounter the same ignorance of gun safety in peoples’ homes.

“It’s scary when you see loaded guns in the home, just in a closet or in the bedside table, with little kids in the house. It’s far better to have a device like this,” he said.

The lock is opened with a key and is threaded through the barrel of a revolver or the ejection port of rifles, pistols or shotguns.

Pierini said while the lock will take time away from gun owners in a situation where they would have to protect themselves, he suggested the precaution would be worth it.

“You have to weigh the threat you perceive to be or do you want to allow young people to get the gun and shoot it?” Pierini said.

He said gun owners should practice getting the lock on and off quickly.

However, Pierini said statistics show even law enforcement officers rarely have a reason to use their guns.

“Officers with a 30-year-career often never fire their weapon,” he said.

Pierini said the 1,000 gun locks will be distributed immediately at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and each of the substations. Limit is two per household and participants don’t need to show identification.

More information will be available during the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office television show on channel 26 Thursday at 7 p.m.

Pierini said the hunter safety course will be held again at the end of March. Call 782-9900 for more information. Pierini said there are not any plans to hold a handgun safety course, but if enough people are interested, he will form one. Anyone interested can also call that number

Gun locks can be picked up during normal working hours:

Douglas County Sheriff’s main station, 1625 Eighth St., Minden;

Stateline substation, 175 Highway 50, Stateline;

North County substation, 3587 Sunridge Drive, Minden;

Topaz substation, 1470 Albite, Topaz Ranch Estates;

Ranchos substation, 1281-9 Kimmerling Rd., Gardnerville