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Anne Arundel County starts pilot program to hand out free gun locks

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. File Photo.
Brian Witte/AP
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. File Photo.

Anne Arundel County will give out free gun locks to residents in a new pilot program starting today in an attempt to reduce gun violence and suicide.

Adult residents can receive up to two gun locks from the Glen Burnie, Busch Annapolis or Eastport-Annapolis Library branches.

“While state law preempts local jurisdictions from imposing certain gun restrictions, this program is one of the ways we are working to save lives by mitigating the risk of gun violence,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman.

The county spent $10,000 on the locks for the public.

“We did see in our most recent data, that in Maryland, there is an increase in suicides of children between the ages of 10 and 19,” said Anne Arundel County Acting Health Officer Tonii Gedin. “Gun safety storage is critical in making sure that someone who has suicidal ideations is not having access to a gun that isn't theirs.”

About 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded firearm.

Last year saw more than 350 unintentional shootings involving children, resulting in 156 deaths.

Additionally, there is a strong body of evidence that shows people who live in the house with a firearm are at a higher risk for suicide.

Many other jurisdictions across the nation are handing out gun locks in an effort to promote gun safety.

Anne Arundel County is particularly attuned to gun issues after a shooter killed five journalists at the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis in 2018.

The county recently won a lawsuit requiring gun shops to hand out government-provided literature on suicide prevention and conflict resolution with firearms and ammunition.

Scott is the Health Reporter for WYPR. @smaucionewypr
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