Michigan State Police are giving away 75,000 gun locks to residents - TAI News
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Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald demonstrates how swiftly she was able to insert a gun lock during closing statements in the trial of James Crumbley, Wednesday, March, 13, 2024 in Pontiac, Michigan. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press via AP, Pool)

The Michigan State Police announced this month that they’re partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to give away 75,000 free gun locks in an effort to protect children against gun violence.

The partnership comes after new gun safety legislation went into effect in the state this past February that requires Michiganders to store their guns unloaded inside a lockbox when a minor is present, with penalties ranging from a $500 fine to a 15-year prison sentence for people who don’t comply. The safe storage law is part of a broader gun reform package that was passed by the Democratic-led Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year.

“Because this law seeks to prevent injuries and deaths, we want to make safe storage as easy and accessible as possible so in addition to obtaining a gun lock from many police agencies, Michiganders can now also come into a MDHHS office to pick one up, no questions asked,” Col. James F. Grady II, the director of the MSP, said in a statement.

The number of gun deaths among U.S. children grew by 50% between 2019 and 2021, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2020 and 2021, gun violence was the leading cause of death among children and teens.

People have already been charged under the new law after children in their care injured themselves with unsecured weapons. A father in Genesee County became the first person to be charged one day after the new law went into effect after his 3-year-old daughter accidentally shot herself in the face. Earlier this month, a 6-year-old boy shot and killed a 5-year-old relative after finding a gun at their grandparents’ house, although charges in that case have yet to be announced. Most recently, a father in Macomb County was charged in mid-April after his 8-year-old son accidentally shot himself in the face.

The MSP used $500,000 of its funding included in the state’s 2024 fiscal year budget to purchase the gun locks from Project ChildSafe, a national firearm safety education initiative.

The gun locks are available at the MDHHS’ county offices and some local health departments while supplies last. MDHHS staff are able to provide gun locks to individuals during home visits upon request, and gun locks can also be obtained through Project ChildSafe partners across the state. The department estimates that the gun locks should still be available in June.

“Actions such as implementing gun locks are going to make a difference when it comes to prevention efforts around firearm safety,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel.

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