Local officers provide tips to keep firearms out of reach of children

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 27, 2018

Proper gun storage and safety procedures can save lives – especially if children live in homes where firearms are present, Picayune Police Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said.

As a general rule, the best practice is to keep guns locked in a safe – especially if children are in the home. That practice will limit access to those weapons to those who have the key or combination.

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If a gun owner does not have access to a safe, Magri recommends putting the firearms somewhere out of reach of children, such as high above the floor like the top shelf of a closet. This would make it more difficult for children to reach them, he said. As an added layer of security, employ locking mechanisms, such as one over the trigger. Magri said they are inexpensive and secure a gun so it cannot be loaded or fired.

Picayune Police Captain James Bolton added that it is also important to keep ammunition and firearms in separate places.

“We know there will be people out there who don’t want to have a gun stored in a safe or in the closet, because many people who have weapons in the house keep them for home protection or personal defense,” Magri said.

Bolton said for people who own firearms for self-defense or home security can purchase a biometric safe that read fingerprints or has a simple combination to make access quick and easy, but keeps them out of reach of children. He said these devices make firearms readily available if someone breaks in.

Magri said his recommendation for those who decide to keep weapons loaded and available at their own risk – would be wise to educate everyone in the home about gun safety. Everybody needs to have experience with an owned weapon, know how to handle it, know how to shoot it and know what it’s used for. He said it is also preferable that everyone in the home attends some kind of gun safety and shooting training. One of those lessons will be to treat every gun as if it is loaded – whether it is or not.

Bolton said if children are taught to respect firearms early in life it can be a prerequisite to children not making fatal mistakes with weapons.