Los Angeles, CA—Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and her colleague Supervisor Hilda Solis are proposing a plan to allow doctors and nurses at County-operated hospitals and medical campuses to give out free gun locks as part of a harm reduction strategy to prevent gun violence.
“Gun locks can save lives – especially in households with children,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “Some studies have found that people are more likely to use gun locks if they are given to them by their doctor or in a medical center to take home and I think it is a concept we should explore for our own County hospitals.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of US gun owners fail to keep their guns in a locked place and 56% of US gun owners keep their guns loaded. This increases the risk of injury or death within a house, especially for children and teens. Securely storing firearms with gun safety cable locks or within a gun safe or lock box is one way to prevent firearms from being accessed or used by children.
“If guns are not safely stored or locked, it can lead to devastating and fatal consequences. Gun owners may assume that their families know how to handle a gun, however, if it’s not safely stored or locked, serious injuries or death may result. Hospitals are where many victims end up, and to that end, we can use the opportunity to both educate and provide them with a tangible resource to better protect them and their families from guns—gun locks,” said Supervisor Solis.
Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Solis to explore providing free gun locks for the public at Los Angeles County hospitals for people to take home and use to properly secure guns. Other hospitals across the country have already implemented this practice following research showing its effectiveness.
“One of the easiest ways to prevent gun violence is to make certain that firearms are securely locked up with ammunition stored separately,” said Margot Bennett, Executive Director, Women Against Gun Violence. “Doing so helps prevent suicide, school shootings, and unintentional shootings. We are grateful to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as they continue their efforts to prevent gun violence with this innovative approach to make gun locks easily available.”
The Department of Public Health’s Office of Violence Prevention and the Department of Health Services will report back to the board in writing in 45 days with information about the number of County-operated hospitals and medical campuses and the number of locks required for implementation, a proposed process and plan for implementation that includes a timeline to secure the locks, development of educational campaigns, and identification of a distribution strategy, and any resources required to purchase and provide gun safety cable locks, gun safes, and/or lock boxes.