Kansas City Public Library teams with police to hand out free gun locks

Cable-style gun lock.
Cable-style gun lock. Project ChildSafe

A 2-year-old boy who shot and killed himself in south Kansas City in August was at least the 11th unintentional shooting by a child in this area since 2013.

Nationally, about 100 children are killed by unintentional shootings every year. That’s on top of more than 400 people age 17 and younger who die by suicide with a gun every year.

Those numbers helped spur the Kansas City Public Library to team with Kansas City police and the group Moms Demand Action to offer gun safety presentations and free gun locks to library patrons in coming weeks.

One program will be from 6 to 6:45 p.m. Jan. 31 at the North-East library branch, 6000 Wilson Road, and another will be from noon to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Lucile H. Bluford branch, 3050 Prospect Ave.

“The idea for this came after some of our staff were tired of hearing about kids and toddlers in the neighborhoods getting their hands on improperly stored weapons,” said library spokeswoman Courtney Lewis. “The goal is to keep kids’ hands off guns in the homes, and also to reduce suicides.”

The locks are free, and patrons are welcome but are not required to stay for the presentation. Free gun locks are also available at each of the city’s six police patrol divisions.

In addition, Project ChildSafe, sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is partnering locally with the Johnson County Mental Health Center, which recently distributed 500 free gun locks and ordered more. The locks are also available at other area police stations and hospitals. Locations can be searched by state.

Moms Demand Action has prepared an online video called Be Smart for Kids that offers simple safety tips that can help prevent a tragedy.

“If your kids can get their hands into the cookie jar on the counter they can certainly find your gun,” a presenter says in the video, which urges gun owners to lock up their weapons and ammunition separately.

Other sobering statistics:

▪ An estimated 70 percent of kids under 10 know where their parents’ guns are kept.

▪ About 1.7 million kids live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked.

▪ About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a gun are successful.

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC