East Windsor Provides
Free Gun Locks
By Janice S. Mironov, Mayor
East Windsor Township
& James Monahan, Chief of
Police, East Windsor Township
During the month of March, East Windsor Township joined with Project ChildSafe in distributing free gun safety locks to resident gun owners. For our township, this is a pro-active initiative, geared to promote and provide improved gun safety. These locks, if properly used by lawful gun owners, can help prevent accidental deaths or injuries in the home, as well as deaths and injuries caused by the intentional misuse of guns.
The cable style gun locking devices distributed through this program are easy to use and effective at rendering weapons safe. The locks meet the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) current testing protocol standard (F2369-04) and require that many types of firearms be unloaded before the cable lock is installed, providing an extra level of safety.
Researchers have found that millions of children live in homes with easily accessible guns. A 2000 study of firearm storage patterns in US homes found that “of the homes with children and firearms, 55 percent were reported to have 1 or more firearms in an unlocked place,” and 43 percent reported keeping guns without a trigger lock in an unlocked place. A 2005 study on adult firearm storage practices in US homes found that over 1.69 million children and youth under age 18 are living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2013).
Pictured (left to right) displaying guns and gun safety locks are Sergeant Eric Lion; East Windsor Township Mayor and NJLM President Janice S. Mironov; Chief of Police James Monahan; and Lieutenant Harry Marshall
The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of both accidental gun injuries and intentional shootings. A recent study found that more than 75 percent of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend. At least two studies have found that the risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.
We believe that the use of gun locks is a no-brainer. It is an inexpensive way to prevent unnecessary tragedies. We hope that programs such as this will remind and educate lawful gun owners about their important responsibility to handle firearms safely and to store them in a secure manner.
In New Jersey, the importance of safely storing firearms is highlighted in statute under the Keepsafe Program (N.J.S. 2C: 58-17). Under the statute, “…a person who purchases a firearm from a retail dealer licensed under the provisions of N.J.S. 2C: 58-2 shall be eligible for a $5 instant rebate when a compatible trigger locking device is purchased along with that firearm.” The program was established with the intention of promoting and encouraging safe firearms storage practices.
East Windsor Township’s Gun Safety Lock Program goes one step further and provides gun safety locks free of charge. The program includes a public awareness campaign informing residents of the availability of the free gun safety locks. East Windsor Township uses press releases and our popular E-News information communications, as well as the Mayor’s Spotlight, East Windsor cable television, and the township website to get the word out.
To receive gun locks, residents simply call the East Windsor Township Police Department and make arrangements to pick them up. Officers are also available to review the current New Jersey Statute as it pertains to legal requirements of firearms storage (N.J.S. 2C:58-15).
The use of gun locks is a no-brainer. It is an inexpensive way to prevent unnecessary tragedies.
The majority of states have laws designed to prevent children from accessing firearms but laws vary from state to state. New Jersey’s law is among the more restrictive ones, imposing criminal liability when a minor gains access to a negligently stored firearm. Some of the less restrictive states merely prohibit persons from directly providing a firearm to a minor. There is a wide range of laws that fall somewhere between these extremes, including laws that impose criminal liability for negligently stored firearms, but only where the child uses the firearm and causes death or serious injury. Weaker laws impose liability only in the event of reckless, knowing or intentional conduct by the adult.
In October 2000, the US Secret Service published a study of 37 school shootings in 26 states. That study found that in more than 65 percent of the cases, the attacker got the gun from his or her own home or that of a relative.
East Windsor Township sponsors its gun safety program in partnership with Project ChildSafe. Project ChildSafe is a nationwide program that promotes safe firearms handling and storage practices among all firearms owners through the distribution of key safety education messages and free firearm safety kits that include the gun safety locks. Project ChildSafe was developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. Originally, Project ChildSafe was a component of “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” a federal gun violence-prevention initiative, and was supported by grants from the US Department of Justice with additional funding from NSSF. Today, due to federal budget constraints, Project ChildSafe is sponsored solely by the firearms industry through NSSF.
While East Windsor Township has selected the month of March to promote its Gun Safety Lock program, free gun locks can be distributed throughout the year as supplies last and when opportunities to promote safe gun storage become available.