Preventing gun accidents is the reason why Payson police handed out free gun locks Monday at Wal-Mart and will continue to give out the locks until they are gone.
Project ChildSafe, funded by the Department of Justice, promotes safe firearm handling and storage, representative Randy Lamb said. The program has allowed for 266,000 gun safety kits to be given free of charge to gun owners in Arizona.
"The program was started in 1999 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is a non-profit trade association comprised of 2,500 businesses," Lamb said. "They still fund a portion of the program."
"We want to keep handguns safe from children," Payson Police Sgt. John Heflin said. "The locks won't allow the bullet to go into the chamber."
After one hour at Wal-Mart, Lamb and Heflin had given out 250 gun locks.
"We have 1,700 to give away," Heflin said. "These locks work on semi-automatics, revolvers -- even hunting rifles."
Lamb said that even if a family does not own a weapon, children need to be taught what to do if they come across a gun.
"We have the Project ChildSafe Pledge which parents can have their children sign," Lamb said.
In the pledge, the child agrees not to handle guns without permission from an adult that they know. They pledge not to play with guns and if they find one, they will notify an adult immediately.
Heflin said the department will be holding another Project ChildSafe booth in a month.
"We will do this again, but in the meantime, people can stop by the police department and get a free gun lock there," Heflin said. "People can request up to five locks."
Project ChildSafe literature includes the pledge, a bookmark with firearm safety tips and ways to talk to your children about guns.
For more information on the program, go to the website at www.projectchildsafe.org.