By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Parents in Roosevelt County have free at their disposal gun locks to help protect children from accidental shootings.
The Project Safe van made a stop in Portales on Thursday and gave away 800 gunlocks to law enforcement officials — 500 to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department and 300 to the Portales Police Department — to distribute to the community.
Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said approximately eight months ago the department received 800 gunlocks, and almost all of them have been given away.
“We’ve given them to civic groups and we provide them to anyone who asks for them,” Berry said. “Most people stop by the office to pick them up. Many take them to civic groups.”
Virginia Hill, Project ChildSafe spokeswoman, said Portales was a stop on the eight-day tour to Albuquerque and the southeast part of New Mexico. Hill said there are 30 drivers in charge of 15 ChildSafe trucks during the tour. Hill said 108,000 free gunlocks were given to law enforcement agencies in New Mexico.
She said free gun locks are distributed each year, and sometimes law enforcement agencies run out of them.
“We’ve had a wonderful response,” Hill said about the program. “It’s not unusual for the law enforcement agencies to run out quickly. There is a lot of demand for them. The law enforcement agencies receive a lot of calls and inquiries for them.”
Hill said a primary objective of the program is to get people in the habit of using gun locks to protect their children.
“Our program is about educating people about firearms and gun locks,” Hill said. “People don’t realize how many gun accidents happen involving children and the incidents are completely needless.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation has partnered with local law enforcement to distribute a total of 242,000 free gun locks in New Mexico as part of the national Project ChildSafe program this year, according to a press release from Project ChildSafe. There were 137,000 free gunlocks given out in New Mexico in 2004.
“It’s a good safety device to have around to protect your children,” Berry said.
Berry said no paperwork is necessary to receive a gun lock. Gun locks can be picked up either at the sheriff’s department or the police department at 1800 N. Boston.
Hill said she has made stops in Lovington, Clovis, Albuquerque, Roswell, Artesia, Hobbs and Jal. Hill traveled to Fort Sumner and Melrose on Friday to distribute more gun locks.