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Pima County offering free gun locks to help stem firearms deaths

Pima County residents can pick up a free gun lock at more than 30 locations, under an effort by the Health Department to decrease youth gun violence.

“We’ve seen a tragic increase in the number of young people dying due to firearms,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, director of the department, said in a news release.“These incidents are sometimes intentional self-harm and sometimes when a firearm accidentally discharges. These incidents are preventable and gun locks are one step to preventing them.”

Over the last decade, gun suicides have increased by nearly 60 percent among children and teens, according to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety. Additionally, an estimated 4.6 million children in the United States live in a home with at least one loaded gun that’s unlocked.

About 4,000 free locks will be available at Pima County Health Department clinics and the county’s 27 public libraries over the next few months. Some participating pediatricians' offices may have the locks available, according to the release.

There is no individual limit on the number of locks that can be picked up, county officials said, nor is there an age requirement to get one of the free gun locks.

The free locks include information on safe gun storage and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Help is available for those in crisis by dialing 9-8-8, a new national hotline which began on Saturday. The previous Lifeline phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number, will also continue to operate.

“Research shows that by securely storing firearms, the risk of suicide or other harm is lower,” Cullen said in the release. "Locks such as these can provide critical life-saving moments between impulse and action when someone is in crisis.”

The locks are available at the following clinics in addition to the public libraries and select doctors' offices:

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  • Theresa Lee Clinic, 1493 W. Commerce Ct.
  • East Clinic, 6920 E. Broadway
  • North Clinic, 3550 N. 1st Ave.
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Pima County Health Department

The Pima County Health Department is responding to rising youth gun violence with a free gun lock giveaway at more than 30 locations. Health clinics, libraries and some doctors' offices are participating.

Need help?

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, call 911 for emergency services or call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline 9-8-8 to be connected to a trained counselor at a crisis center near you. You can also call the national Poison Help line at 800-222-1222.