- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - City and law enforcement officials want to see several thousand gun locks distributed to firearm owners across the city of Philadelphia.

Sheriff Jewell Williams said officials expect to distribute about 500 trigger-securing locks Monday night at Fairhill Square Park in north Philadelphia and Rose Playground in west Philadelphia.

The effort comes after a city ordinance that seeks to lower shootings involving minors, such as suicides and homicides. The city recommends trigger locks as part of its safe storage initiative and the council’s recently passed “child safety provision” that requires safe storage of firearms in households with children under 18 years old. Only state lawmakers, however, could mandate the use of trigger locks.

Research on locks and gun ownership liability for adults has shown a reduction in child and teenage suicides and accidental shootings in Massachusetts, where similar measures have been adopted, said Shira Goodman, executive director with gun violence intervention group CeaseFirePA.

“So these things do work,” Goodman said. “(The effort) recognizes that any child, any young person that picks up a gun, that gun first went through the hands of an adult, and this says we’re going to stop that; we’re going to be responsible.”

Philadelphia is no stranger to gun-related injuries, at least half a dozen of which have included minors this year. Most recently, on Sunday, a boy shot himself in the hand in the city’s Germantown neighborhood. Police said it appeared accidental.

City Council President Darrell Clarke said officials gathered Monday at Temple University Hospital, or “ground zero” for gun-related trauma patients to discuss safe gun storage, but more must be done.

Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams on Monday backed the lock distribution effort and called for a number of changes to the state’s gun laws. He said he’d like to see legislation passed to increase penalties for gun crimes, close loopholes that allow minors access to guns, bolster mental health supports, increase employment chances for the formerly incarcerated, establish mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders and require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, among other measures.

Sheriff Jewell Williams agreed with the district attorney, but said one of the first steps to curbing gun violence comes down to a simple mantra: Got a gun? Get a lock.

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