ERWIN — Although he said interest generally ebbs and flows, Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson said his department has received numerous calls recently from residents interested in obtaining gun locks from the Erwin Police Department.
For some time, the department has given out free gun locks, which it receives through Project ChildSafe, a nationwide program developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Through the project, law enforcement departments throughout the country receive firearm safety kits that they can distribute to local citizens.
Tilson said most new firearms come with locks, but some do not. He also said the locks are ideal for people who may have children around their home and people who already have guns or acquire guns without a locking device.
“So if you’ve already got a weapon, or maybe you inherited one, or maybe you know your grandkids are coming to visit or something like that, you can secure the weapon while they’re there,” Tilson said.
Tilson said his department has a little more than 50 of the armored cable-style locks available and that an engaged lock renders a firearm safe. He said the locks can be picked up at Erwin Town Hall and they are available not only to Erwin residents, but anyone interested.
The Erwin Police Department does not collect information from those who pick up the gun locks, and although each lock comes with instructions, officers with the department are available to demonstrate how to use the locks, Tilson said. He also said the gun-locking devices are effective on all firearm types.
“If they come in and they want seven, if they have seven guns, they’re more than welcome to seven of them,” Tilson said. “Again, we don’t ask questions. If they wanted 10 of them, I’ll give them 10 because we want them to have the ability to make their weapons safe.”
Should the department run out of locks, Tilson said he will contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Greeneville, which has helped the police department secure locks for distribution in the past. Tilson said he will also post notices on the Erwin Police Department’s Facebook page as the locks become available.
On April 6, a child accidentally shot and killed the wife of a Wilson County deputy after the boy grabbed a loaded gun at a family cookout, and similar incidents have occurred recently. Tilson said the last thing his department wants to do is work such a tragedy, especially when it can be prevented from the outset. It’s because of this that he says the department is happy to participate in the program.
“There’s been so much in the news, not only those tragedies, but there’s a lot of talk in the news about guns, and there’s people purchasing them who have never owned them,” Tilson said. “Just the fact that they can come and get this if they need it is a good thing, in my opinion.”