Juneau gun enthusiasts will have an opportunity to learn about firearm safety and receive a free kit including a cable-style gun lock when the Project HomeSafe Firearm Safety Tour mobile classroom rolls into Juneau on July 28 and 29.
Created by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Project HomeSafe's goal is "to increase awareness of responsible firearms handling, to provide firearm safety educational material to communities all across the country, and to distribute the firearm safety kits," said Paul Erhardt, director of public relations with the Connecticut-based foundation. "It's really an all-out effort to promote firearm safety to as many homes and individuals as possible."
The program sends a 16-foot mobile classroom into communities nationwide to distribute firearms safety kits as well as provide education on firearm safety. The kit contains the cable-style gun lock, as well as an instructional booklet on proper handling of firearms, Erhardt said. Visitors can watch a video on firearm safety and view a display of safe storage equipment. A Safety Tour coordinator also will be on hand to answer questions.
The cable-style gun lock is designed to fit a variety of firearms and is relatively simple to use. As an added safety feature, the firearm must be unloaded before the gun lock can be installed.
"It looks like a cable that goes through the cylinder of a revolver or semi-automatic and keeps the slide from traveling forward," said Sgt. Ray Culbreth of the Alaska State Troopers. "It's not a trigger lock. It's a multi-functional gun lock, not specific to any particular gun."
Outdoor Headquarters Manager Joe Buell, whose store hosts the classroom Monday, July 29, said he welcomed the safety program to his Airport Shopping Center shop.
"Right next to a gun shop is a great place to do it," he said. "I understand they have an officer in a bright van and they pass out literature and talk about gun safety in the home. ... It's a public service."
Buell said cable locks, which resemble small bicycle locks, are a good way to keep firearms from discharging.
"You can weave those through the action of a firearm and totally disable it," he said. "It's a big wrench in the way."
He said his store sells cable locks, though not many.
"Most new firearms come with a locking system of one nature or another," he said. "But people with older firearms might want to pick one up if they suddenly get children."
Super Kmart, which will host the safety tour Sunday, July 28, also sells cable locks, said Store Director Debbie Saddler.
She said Project HomeSafe makes sense.
"It's an important issue and we want to participate," she said. "You need to be safe and you need to responsible."
The safety program addresses children as well as adults.
Children visiting the program's van will be encouraged to sign the Project HomeSafe Pledge to show their commitment to gun safety. The pledge has children promise not to handle firearms without adult supervision and to tell an adult immediately if they find a gun lying around.
Project HomeSafe is funded by the firearms industry and a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Since its nationwide tour began in September 2001, its five mobile classrooms have visited more than 700 communities in 31 states. It plans to distribute 3 million firearm safety kits nationwide through 2002.
Reaction to the tour has been "tremendous," Erhardt said.
"When the classroom is parked outside a mall, people will come up to talk to the project person to get an update or education on the proper procedure on storing a firearm," he said. "You have a lot of folks who say, 'We do have a firearm in the home, but I don't know if we're taking that extra step that we need to.' So it really encourages them to go the extra step" and learn how to safely handle and store their firearms, he said.
The 33-day Alaska tour is scheduled to visit 24 communities throughout the state; Juneau and Petersburg are the only Southeast communities on the tour. Juneau hours will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 28 at the Kmart parking lot and July 29 at Outdoor Headquarters.
More information is available on the Web site www.projecthomesafe.org/.
Amy Maio is a free-lance writer living in Juneau. Empire editor Ed Schoenfeld contributed to this article.