Project ChildSafe is the most comprehensive gun safety program in the country. Since 1999, organizers have partnered with more than 15,000 police departments across the country to distribute more than 38 million gun safety locks. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of Project ChildSafe plus how it has grown and keeps things fresh as problems change.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the gun industry, founded Project ChildSafe with the initial goal of reducing preventable or accidental gun deaths. Their message was simple: lock up your guns when they’re not in use.
NSSF Senior Communications Director Bill Brassard explained they started Project ChildSafe by handing out free gun locks, but the program quickly evolved into more of a national gun safety campaign.
“While Project ChildSafe is known for its free distribution of cable gun locks, it really considers itself an educational program and helps gun owners work through what type of secure storage device is best for them whether it’s a cable lock, a lock box, or a full-size gun safe,” Brassard said.
He added that through Project ChildSafe, they also regularly release educational videos for children about gun safety and publish materials that guide parents through talking to their kids about guns.
Today, Project ChildSafe partners pass out gun locks and gun safety materials at public events like state fairs and at gun stores and police stations in all 50 states.
In 2018, the NSSF expanded Project ChildSafe again by partnering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for suicide awareness. Before the partnership, the gun industry was largely apprehensive to address the issue even though the majority of gun deaths each year are suicides.
“With those organizations, we’ve developed a tool kit for retailers and shooting ranges built around a theme of ‘have a brave conversation’ because it’s important when you see somebody struggling to reach out and open the lines of communication,” Brassard said.
Brassard explained they teach gun sellers how to help family and friends put time and distance between a person who is having suicidal ideations and a firearm. He added if you let that moment of acute crisis to pass, you give that person time to receive professional care and hopefully address whatever issue they have.
Brassard explained the partnership gives their message clout. “We’re not experts on suicide, but the NSSF’s role is that we are the trusted messenger to deliver this information to the gun community,” he said.
The Big Challenge
The NSSF’s biggest challenge of managing Project ChildSafe is keeping the message out there. “It’s not a task that can be accomplished with one campaign message during the course of the year,” Brassard said. “It’s gotta happen more frequently.”
To keep the message alive and well, the NSSF works with their partners to promote multiple campaigns each year like during hunting season or summer break. They’re especially concerned about stretches of time when kids might be home unsupervised.
Nonetheless, Brassard said the campaigns are always designed “to remind parents to make sure their guns are stored properly.”
For More Information
Although the NSSF relies on grants and private donations to fund Project ChildSafe, the project is largely funded by gun companies and retailers (including OpticsPlanet). To learn more about Project ChildSafe and how you can help, check out the project’s website at https://projectchildsafe.org/.
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