A PROGRAM OF THE NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION

Blog Archive, 2018

September 10, 2018

For Robin Ball, the co-owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, Washington, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a reminder of the importance of responsible firearms ownership and storage. Robin was a firearms novice when she began her career as a range owner and retailer, and it quickly became clear that helping to prevent suicide by firearm in her community was an important part of her business.

Two-thirds of firearms-related fatalities are suicides. Robin believes this number is too high and is actively working to help stop suicide. Robin’s desire to educate staff and customers alike on the warning signs of suicide sparked when a suicide occurred at her range. Robin became involved with local committees and initiatives for suicide prevention and has made the issue a regular topic of conversation with her employees. She also has made it mandatory for new employees to complete training on suicide prevention.

Robin and her staff frequently use the Firearms and Suicide Prevention brochure, developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She also uses ASFP-NSSF Suicide Prevention Toolkit, and has spoken with other retailers about suicide prevention, providing them with materials and information about ASFP and NSSF’s toolkit. In 2017, AFSP and NSSF embarked on a national firearms and suicide prevention program focused on educating the gun-owning community on warning signs, risk factors and methods to keep firearms out of reach from those who might wish to harm themselves.

Robin can name several instances where her employees have been able to identify a customer in crisis, talk them through the situation and avoid a potentially tragic outcome. “Helping my employees to recognize when they don’t feel comfortable selling firearms by providing them with feedback during roleplay, along with regular discussions about the importance of suicide prevention, is critical,” says Ball. “Time can change people’s minds. If we can make that time gap bigger, we can help and make a difference.”

Suicide prevention experts note that because suicide is often an impulsive act, putting time and distance between a person in crisis and lethal methods can help save a life. Having a “brave conversation” with someone, as the AFSP-NSSF poster encourages, and keeping firearms and other potentially harmful means out of reach are deterrents. Robin also has several of these posters displayed around her store, as reminders for her customers and employees.

In addition to encouraging her staff to use their judgment and keep their eyes open for unsettling situations, Robin reinforces the importance of safe storage throughout her store with Project ChildSafe posters for both her customers and employees. She says that safe storage is important, but not only for keeping firearms away from kids. “Time can change a situation. Whether it’s parents suddenly dealing with moody teenagers, having your kids bring their friends over or having a spouse who is beginning to suffer from dementia – it’s important to not give them access to your firearms,” says Ball.

Project ChildSafe is proud to work with Robin Ball and to recognize her efforts for suicide prevention and safe storage.

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

 

July 30, 2018

Miles Hall is a familiar face in Oklahoma City and a lifelong firearms safety advocate. He’s recognized for his appearance in several local Oklahoma City public service announcements (PSAs) that underscore the importance of secure firearms storage, and has never been one to shy away from important conversations about personal responsibility in relation to firearms ownership.

Firearms have been a part of Hall’s life for as long as he can remember. Being a former indoor gun range owner, business consultant, husband and father, he keeps firearms safety top-of-mind and incorporates it into his everyday life where he serves as an example to friends, colleagues and, most importantly, to children.

“A gun is a tool,” says Hall. “Kids need to learn how to respect it and, with supervision, to use it properly – education is always important.”

Hall taught his own children how to shoot, with the intent to demystify them, replacing fear with respect and curiosity with competency. He also shares Project ChildSafe’s ethos of “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.” This emphasis proved effective time and time again. In one instance, his young son found an unsecured firearm at a friend’s house and immediately ran home to tell Hall, lessening the likelihood of a firearms-related accident.

Hall has been involved with Project ChildSafe in Oklahoma City since the initial launch of the gun safety program in January 2017, and has been an active advocate of Project ChildSafe for many years prior. As the former owner of one of the top gun ranges in the country, Hall and his wife Jayne have actively distributed firearms safety locks and recruited local supporters in the area. In 2018, Hall also partnered with the local law enforcement and distributed over 200 locks. He even played a key role in getting local retailers and schools involved in distributing firearm safety materials in Oklahoma City.  

Project ChildSafe is proud to recognize Hall as its S.A.F.E. Summer Champion in Oklahoma City for his lifelong efforts in raising awareness and promoting firearms safety and education. Supporters like Hall, nationwide, help to ensure that gun owners securely store their firearms when not in use.

Hall feels the impact of his efforts each time he doesn’t read a headline about a firearms-related accident. “I’ve had people tell me that they saw the firearms safety PSA and that it helped save the life of their friend or family member,” said Hall.

We are pleased to shine a light on Hall’s important work through the sixth annual S.A.F.E. Summer campaign. "S.A.F.E." serves as an acronym for Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearms safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearms owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents. The effort is focused on providing resources to help gun owners take actions and share information that will help keep their families and communities safer.

For other gun safety materials and tips, please visit our resource library and review Project ChildSafe’s 10 Tips for Firearms Safety.

You can also find a gun safety kit in your area through our law enforcement partner list.

July 23, 2018

For Jack Logan, gun safety is more than a priority – it is a passion. Logan’s efforts go beyond distributing gun locks in his community, where he regularly walks door-to-door to distribute firearms safety kits.  A Greenville, South Carolina, native, Logan travels the country shepherding the message of safe gun storage to communities impacted by firearms accidents. Logan has made it his personal mission to remind gun owners to practice firearms safety effectively.

Not a gun owner himself, Logan could not have imagined becoming a vocal supporter of firearms safety. Logan was originally approached to get involved in gun safety education efforts after a series of gun-related crimes and accidents occurred in his community. Originally, he did not engage. However, after the passing of a close friend who believed in firearms safety, coupled with mentions of kids and guns in the news, Logan took up the cause and embarked on a grassroots campaign in Greenville to educate kids not to pick up guns. This campaign today is known as “Put Down the Guns Now Young People.”

Since founding the group, Jack has worked tirelessly to distribute gun safety locks to those in need. He began working with the local sheriff’s department to disseminate gun locks in minority neighborhoods and, soon after, partnered with Project ChildSafe to distribute more than 500 locks to local families in his community.

Today, Project ChildSafe is proud to recognize Logan as its S.A.F.E. Summer Champion in Greensville for his efforts to spread the importance of firearms safety to the community while also raising the importance of safe storage. Supporters like Logan, nationwide, help to ensure that gun owners “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.”

“It feels good knowing that with these locks and educational materials there is less of a chance a child could get hurt by a gun. Knowing we saved someone’s life or someone from getting hurt; that’s how I know I’m making an impact,” said Logan. "I just want to keep people safe.”

We are pleased to shine a light on Logan’s important work through the sixth annual S.A.F.E. Summer campaign. "S.A.F.E." serves as an acronym for Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearms safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearms owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents. The effort is focused on providing resources to help gun owners take action and share information that will help keep their families and communities safer.

For other gun safety materials and tips, please visit our resource library and review Project ChildSafe’s 10 Tips for Firearms Safety.

You can also find a gun safety kit in your area through our law enforcement partner list.

July 16, 2018

Since 2000, the number of women gun owners has dramatically increased, with self and home defense ranking as the number one reason women choose to own a gun (Source: NSSF Girl Power Infographic). For most of her life, Javondlynn Dunagan never thought she would be one of those women – let alone become an active firearms safety advocate and educator.

Dunagan, a retired Chicago federal probation officer of 25 years, didn’t envision owning a firearm. Throughout her career, Dunagan was not required to carry a gun, nor did she think it would significantly enhance safety in her home. However, she was married to a police officer, who owned firearms, and that helped her feel safe. It wasn’t until her divorce that she understood why so many women embrace firearms as a form of personal independence and protection. Initially cautious when it came to firearms, Dungan committed to learning how best to responsibly own and use a gun.

“It was time to get over my fears, but to do that I needed to make sure I was trained and educated on how to properly use [a firearm],” said Dunagan.

Prior to retiring as a probation officer, Dunagan completed a firearms training course and began taking solo trips to the gun range in an effort to refine her shooting skills. Soon enough, she felt confident, empowered and safer. During her time at the gun range, one thing was clear to Dunagan: too few women came in to shoot. Understanding that many women want a sense of security yet also recognizing possible anxieties associated with owning firearms, Dunagan decided to empower women to take responsibility for their own safety through self-defense training and firearms education.

Today, Project ChildSafe is proud to recognize Dunagan as its S.A.F.E. Summer Champion in Chicago for her efforts to empower women in the community while raising the importance of responsible firearms ownership and gun safety. Supporters like Dunagan nationwide help to ensure that gun owners “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.”

In 2017, Dunagan started her business, JMD Defense & Investigations, and became the founder of the Ladies of Steel gun club, through which more than 100 women have learned how to responsibly handle firearms. Dunagan went from being apprehensive around firearms to becoming fiercely committed to proper firearms usage and gun safety education. Her work also includes partnerships with local law enforcement agencies and distributing nearly 100 Project ChildSafe gun locks.

“It’s a good feeling knowing that I can help other women overcome their own fears and become responsible gun owners,” said Dunagan, who also advocates for five central tips about firearms safety for women and firearms novices generally:

  1. Take a class on basic firearms education.
  2. Have a personal firearms record card – record the firearm, serial number and transaction information.
  3. Clean your gun on a regular basis.
  4. Make sure your firearm is properly stored when not in use.
  5. Conduct a firearm check before guests arrive at your home and make sure it is secured.

We are pleased to shine a light on Dunagan’s important work through the sixth annual S.A.F.E. Summer campaign. "S.A.F.E." serves as an acronym for Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearms safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearms owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents. The effort is focused on providing resources to help gun owners take actions and share information that will help keep their families and communities safer.

For other gun safety materials and tips, please visit our resource library and review Project ChildSafe’s 10 Tips for Firearms Safety.

You can also find a gun safety kit in your area through our law enforcement partner list.

July 9, 2018

Cheryl Bone has never been one to settle for the conventional. From studying nursing, to serving as a law enforcement lieutenant, to joining a music ministry, and finally becoming a chaplain in her community—at 72 years old—Cheryl’s life is anything but ordinary.  

One thing has remained constant in her varied life, however: Practicing, teaching and advocating firearms safety. Her work and passion to spread the gun safety and safe storage messages are a big part her life. As a result, Project ChildSafe is proud to name Cheryl its S.A.F.E. Summer Champion in Memphis.

Cheryl has distributed hundreds of Project ChildSafe firearm safety kits that include a gun lock at local events, reaching people far beyond her Memphis community. She is a familiar face at school career fairs, and is often recognized for passing along gun locks and resources to youth in hopes of encouraging parents to securely store their firearms.

As a trusted member of the local faith community and a strong partner to law enforcement agencies that need help distributing gun locks, she is a true advocate for Project ChildSafe and its mission.

“I advocate for gun safety because I’m passionate about it, and I don’t want to see any more children die from preventable firearms accidents,” said Cheryl.

According to Cheryl, children and teens are comfortable and willing to talk to her about their parents’ firearms storage practices, and she always makes an effort to give at least one gun lock to each student with whom she connects.

Firearms safety has been a part of Cheryl’s life from a very young age, dating back to her early childhood years when her father taught her how to use his 20-gauge Iver Johnson shotgun. At five years old, she was instilled with the vital importance of firearms safety – something she still vividly remembers. The most important lesson she learned back then was that the 20-gauge Iver Johnson was not a toy.

Ever since, she has made it her mission to help everyone become a safe and responsible gun owner. That dedication formally took hold in 1968 when she started a career in law enforcement and became the first female police officer for the University of Tennessee police department to work the Memphis streets.  

Because of her exposure to guns at a young age and her dad’s positive influence on proper firearms storage and gun safety, Cheryl recognizes how crucial it is to begin having conversations with children sooner rather than later. She believes teaching from the bottom up and not top down will help save more young children from accidental injuries and deaths. A gun owner herself, Cheryl always practices safe storage. It gives her piece of mind to know that when her grandchildren come to visit, her firearms are locked up and out of reach.

Project ChildSafe is proud to partner with supporters like Cheryl Bone nationwide to ensure that gun owners “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.” We are pleased to shine a light on Cheryl’s important work through the sixth annual S.A.F.E. Summer campaign. "S.A.F.E." serves as an acronym for Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearm safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearm owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents. The effort is focused on providing resources to help gun owners take actions and share information that will help keep their families and communities safer.

 

For other gun safety materials and tips, please visit our resource library.

Find a gun safety kit in your area through our law enforcement partner list.

 

June 19, 2018

Name: Sheriff Carl J. Gotwald Sr.

Department: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Brookville, Pennsylvania


How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office distributes the Project ChildSafe locks from our office to any individual in need. We also provide locks at off-site events such as The Night Out for Child Safety and the local fair. We also supply locks to our Adult and Juvenile Probation Department, as well as the Children and Youth Services.

Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?

Project ChildSafe is a program that hits close to home for me. At one particular birthday party when my grandchildren were younger, one of the children went into a bedroom and came out carrying a handgun. The door was shut but the kids were able to get in and find their parents’ weapon. If it had not been for a safety lock on the firearm, there was the possibility that someone would not be able to enjoy their next birthday. Any firearm that is not secured in a safe or safety container should have a safety lock of some kind attached.

How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?

The Sheriff’s Office has distributed hundreds of locks over the years. I can happily say we have had no accidental shootings in Jefferson County – a statistic that we aim to keep going for many years to come. Hopefully by providing literature and locks to so many, we have averted an accidental shooting by a minor or adult.

How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?

There are many helpful courses and online resources, including Project ChildSafe, that provide information and materials on gun safety. This means that educational materials, quizzes and videos are readily available to anyone in the community. Further, the NRA has gun safety instructors who offer hands-on classes for novice or seasoned firearms owners.

Lastly, we welcome anyone in our community to contact our sheriff or police departments and ask for information on safe handling and storage of firearms.

April 27, 2018

Name: Rick Porrello, Chief of Police

Department: Lyndhurst Police Department, Lyndhurst, Ohio

How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?

Project ChildSafe locks are distributed directly to residents in several ways. We routinely promote their availability through our online presence, our city magazine and on our city hall marquee. They are also made available at special events – such as National Night Out and Lyndhurst Home Day. Finally, they’re also available 24/7 directly from our Emergency Communications Center.

Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?

Our mission statement memorializes our commitment to collaborate with the community. Partnering with Project ChildSafe gives us another way to work with residents to help prevent tragedies and share information about gun safety. Having the locks available, and promoting their availability, in and of itself helps to promote gun safety awareness for our residents.

How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?

The safety kits provided by Project ChildSafe have helped us maintain an ongoing message of importance about the secure storage of firearms. Preventing access to guns by children and criminals and accidental discharge are critical goals for law enforcement, gun owners and, for that matter, all citizens.

How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?

Citizens must continue to make gun safety a priority and be part of the solution, not the problem. They should support programs such as Project ChildSafe, and can help make gun safety a priority in a variety of ways:

  • Gun owners should make secure firearm storage a topic of conversation with loved ones and friends.
  • Citizens can turn in unwanted firearms and ammunition to police.
  • Guns should be locked and stored in secure locations inaccessible to curious children or thieves.
  • Concealed carry license holders should not store guns in cars overnight.

Overall, our partnership with the Project ChildSafe program has been key to inspiring conversation and promoting better firearms safety and awareness.

March 5, 2018

Name: Chief John Gielink

Department: Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Department, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio

How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?

We are proud to feature Project ChildSafe locks and materials in a display box, located in the lobby of city hall, which is accessible to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, we hold several events throughout the year during which we engage with the public. We find that talking to families about gun safety is critical to community safety.

Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?

Unfortunately, due to funding cuts to local government, we are always looking to do more with less.  We always seek out opportunities to provide our residents with information and items to make their lives safer. We would not be able to provide free gun locks to our residents without this partnership with Project ChildSafe, and we have seen firsthand the impact it has on our residents.

How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?

Some individuals in Mentor-on-the-Lake have at least one gun in their home. Many of those homes also have children. Some individuals can’t afford costly secure storage options to keep their weapons safe, and Project ChildSafe, in turn, provides a free solution through their locks and materials. This way, families can keep firearms safe from curious juveniles, at risk individuals and criminals, without a financial burden.

How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?

Help us raise awareness about gun safety both online and off. Children are naturally curious and smarter than some parents realize. Even storing a loaded gun on a high shelf or in a hidden drawer is an invitation to disaster. Talking to children and family members about gun safety and handling is key, and Project ChildSafe has great resources to help guide these conversations.