Community effort focuses on preventing firearms accidents, thefts and misuse
CLEVELAND – The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), along with U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman and former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowler Bob Golic joined with local leaders today to launch “Project ChildSafe Cleveland,” a firearms safety initiative focused on helping to prevent firearms accidents, thefts and misuse by providing information and thousands of free gun locks to Cleveland-area residents.
“Firearms accidents are preventable tragedies, and we must work together as a community if we want to prevent them,” said Dr. C. Jay Matthews of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. “Many people have guns because they want to protect themselves and their families. Protecting your family doesn’t stop with bringing a gun into your home. Protecting your family also means doing what you need to do so that a loaded gun isn’t picked up by a child.”
In launching the program, Cleveland joins a national “Project ChildSafe Communities” initiative designed to promote responsible firearms ownership, with an emphasis on secure firearms storage. The event marks the start of a year-long, community-led effort encouraging gun owners in Cleveland to “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.”
The initiative will be marked by efforts to partner with local organizations to make thousands of free gun locks available throughout the region. The cable-style gun locks come as part of a firearm safety kit that includes information on gun safety and secure storage in the home.
“I am pleased to welcome Project ChildSafe into our community to educate firearms owners on the importance of proper and safe storage,” said Justin E. Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “Preventing firearms from reaching the hands of children, criminals or anyone legally prohibited from possessing a firearm contributes to the overall safety of Cleveland.”
In addition to Mt. Sinai Baptist Church and the U.S. Attorney’s office, the initiative is partnering with several local organizations representing retailers, mental health and suicide prevention advocates, youth organizations and conservation groups. Current partners include the Cleveland Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 4-H Shooting Sports, the Boy Scouts of America – Lake Eerie Council, Delta Waterfowl, Sportsmen of Tomorrow, the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees, Eye on Target Radio, Fin Feather Fur Outfitters, the Parma City Council and the Sportsmen of Tomorrow.
The initiative will work with these groups, and welcomes the support and involvement of others, to help spread messages and information about responsible firearms storage. Their collective efforts will be backed up by community-wide messaging that that will appear in social media, in an upcoming public service announcement on TV and radio, and on billboards around the Cleveland region.
Another of the initiative’s main goals is highlighting the importance for families to talk about gun safety. Organizers emphasize that even if parents don’t own guns, they should still talk to their kids about what to do if they find a gun or they see one at a friend’s house.
“As a parent, firearms safety has always been top of mind in my home,” said former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowler and current TV and radio personality Bob Golic. “Thankfully in addition to offering free gun locks and safety kits, Project ChildSafe has resources available to make this conversation a bit easier.”.”
Project ChildSafe Communities is supported by NSSF through a two-year $2.4 million grant by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). BJA awarded this grant to help promote additional firearms safety efforts on a national level by creating Project ChildSafe Communities in key cities around the country. In addition to helping prevent accidents, the program is also focused on the issue of firearms and suicide prevention, as data shows nearly two-thirds of suicide attempts involve a firearm.
“NSSF’s partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention represents an exciting new opportunity to help reduce the misuse of firearms in Cleveland and nationwide,” said Jane Lewins, President of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Often, the decision to end one’s life is made impulsively; having a gun securely stored puts space between the decision to act and the act itself. That space can mean the difference between a life saved and a tragedy.”
Through partnerships with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies and more than 8,700 organizational supporters, Project ChildSafe has helped educate firearms owners on the importance of gun safety, while distributing more than 37 million free firearm safety kits to communities in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
“Cleveland represents the first Project ChildSafe community effort in Ohio and, based on the tremendous local support we’ve seen already, it will serve as a model for similar firearms safety efforts across the state and around the nation,” said NSSF spokesperson Bill Romanelli.
For more information on Project ChildSafe Communities and how to get involved, visit projectchildsafe.org.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2015-FG-BX-K001 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.