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City plans to hand out free gun locks in effort to promote gun safety in Columbus

The city plans to hand out free gun locks at several community events this summer to promote responsible gun ownership.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Division of Police on Thursday announced a new collaborative initiative to help get firearms out of the hands of children and teenagers by distributing gun locks at several community events.

Columbus police are partnering with The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the Be SMART campaign to hand out free gun locks to community members at all Rise Up CBUS events this summer.

During the announcement, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther joined Columbus Police Deputy Chief Tim Myers, Marian Stuckey with Columbus Public Health, Deborah Grayson with Be SMART/NOBLE, Melissa Thomas St. Clair with Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children and Tim Vansant with First Community Church.

According to Be SMART’s website, the campaign was started in 2015 to promote responsible gun ownership to help reduce youth deaths involving firearms. It teaches adults how to properly and safely unlock, unload and store guns.

The free gun locks will be handed out at the following Rise Up CBUS events:

  • June 8: First Church of God
  • June 22: Adams Community Center
  • July 13: Columbia Heights Church
  • July 27: Whetstone Community Center
  • Aug. 5: Marion Franklin Community Center
  • Aug. 10: Cross Creek Park
  • Aug. 24: Central Baptist Church
  • Sept. 14: Eastpointe Christian Church
  • Sept. 28: Wedgewood Middle School

WATCH LIVE: Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther discusses the city's new initiative

"Guns are everywhere. Everyone seems to have one. They're flooding into our city, they're pouring into other cities, they're crisscrossing boundaries and borders nationwide at an alarming scale and speed," Ginther said.

This comes as city leaders are calling for action and looking for ways to reduce gun violence among youth.

Last month, the city of Columbus announced more than $20 million in funding for summer programs to keep kids away from crime. 

City leaders have also encouraged parents to safely store their firearms and become more involved in their children's lives to help reduce incidents involving gun violence.

In April, 10TV reported an incident where a child fired his father's gun while at his house.

A video provided by the Columbus City Attorney’s office shows two young children playing in a living room. A child then finds a gun within the cushion of a couch and fires it nearly missing his face.  

A few moments later, the video shows Rivas pick up the gun, and the trigger is pulled, firing another bullet.  

No one was hurt, but the boy did suffer some burns and short-term hearing loss. 

“No amount of precaution is too much when it comes to the safety of the children,” the child's mother said.  

According to City Attorney Zach Klein, the gun belonged to the father, Matthew Rivas. He pleaded guilty in the first case involving the city of Columbus’ safe storage ordinance.

Columbus Public Health also hands out free gun safes and lock boxes to residents. They are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Columbus Public Health helped distribute more than 1,900 since January.

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