"Our key goal is to prevent a loaded firearm from lying where
children can get a hold of them," said Bob Keyser, a spokesman for
Project ChildSafe. "That's a tragedy waiting to happen."
The next safety measure is using gun locks, which provide extra
security for households with children, Costa Mesa Sgt. Marty Carver
said. Just keeping a gun on a high shelf in a closet doesn't mean
children can't get to it, he said.
"Kids can climb anything and find whatever you hide, even if you
thought there was no way to get to it," he said. "They're watching
and listening all the time. They know if there's a gun there and
where to go find it."
The locks, which retail for about $10, fit handguns and most
rifles, Carver said.
On automatic handguns, the cable slides through the ejection port
and prevents it from being loaded and the slide from moving forward.
On revolvers, it is fed through the barrel and empty cylinder,
keeping it from closing.
They're not foolproof -- bolt cutters can remove a lock, he said
-- but they make it impossible for small children to use.
Neither Newport Beach nor Costa Mesa has had any accidental
shootings of or by children in recent memory, officers said. But both
have had incidents involving adults.
Project ChildSafe is distributing more than 2 million gun locks in
California, Keyser said. The project is being funded by a U.S.
Department of Justice grant for firearms safety education, he said.
Residents can pick the locks up at the Newport Beach or Costa Mesa
police department front desks, officers said.
People who worry that immobilizing their guns would make it
impossible for them to defend their homes need to weigh the pros and
cons of locking them, Carver said.
"You've got to look at what you're trying to protect," he said.
"The odds of having someone break into your house are much less than
a child getting to that gun while you're not watching it."