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Free gun locks part of new safety initiatives announced by Lincoln mayor
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Free gun locks part of new safety initiatives announced by Lincoln mayor

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Free gun locks will be offered at the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office when someone applies to buy a handgun, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said in announcing a host of Lincoln gun safety initiatives Thursday.

Preventing gun violence is a complex undertaking that requires efforts at every level of government and across the community, she said at a morning news conference.

"We at the city are committed to doing our part," Gaylor Baird said. "To that end, we propose a multi-faceted approach that will move the needle in the right direction."

Her announcements Thursday follow recommendations of the Child Access to Firearms/Safe Storage Task Force, which issued a report offering strategies, like more gun locks and an educational campaign, to encourage gun security. 

But that task force made no recommendation on whether the city should have an ordinance mandating all firearms be locked up at homes when not in use, as gun safety advocates had pushed for. 

Gaylor Baird said she supports two gun ordinances being considered by the City Council, one which requires gun owners to report gun thefts within 48 hours and another to secure guns left in vehicles.

Task force stops short of recommending mandatory storage for guns in Lincoln

The free gun lock program is a partnership with the Lincoln-Lancaster Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition, which will pay for the locks using donations from a Lincoln youth fundraising campaign and a private donor.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Todd Duncan said the gun locks will be available to whomever asks for them. Their delivery date had not been determined as of Thursday, he said.

Gun locks, or trigger locks, are commonly included with guns upon purchase, said Morgan Hernandez of Big Shots, a west Lincoln gun range.

Hernandez applauded the mayor's initiative focusing on education as a means to keep guns out of unauthorized hands.

Her mother, Big Shots co-owner Teri Clark, will be working with the city, Lincoln police, gun safety advocates and Bryan Health to do a public safety campaign recommending safe storage practices.

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"Education is the No. 1 way to prevent (gun violence), rather than laws," she said after the news conference.

The mayor will also continue to support a proposed red-flag gun law at the state level, which would allow law enforcement to remove firearms from a person at high risk of harming themselves or others, she said. 

Gaylor Baird will also join the national group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, she said. 

She would be the first Nebraska mayor to join the group, which is affiliated with Every Town for Gun Safety, according to its website.

Mayors who join this group must pledge to advance its principles, advocating for comprehensive background checks, red-flag laws and opposing "Stand Your Ground," permitless carry, guns in school and state preemption laws, according to the group's website.

Those mayors also vow to pursue policies that reduce gun-related suicides and officer-involved shootings, defend gun safety ordinance challenges in court and use municipal purchasing and investment power to encourage businesses to implement gun safety policies, the website said. 

After the mayor concluded her news conference remarks, Lincoln resident James Vaughn stood up and told Gaylor Baird her support for red-flag laws worried him. 

Those laws erode the due process rights of gun owners, he said.

"A family member, or whatever, can turn you in, and you won't know anything's happened until they (police) show up at your door," said Vaughn, a 71-year-old lifelong Lincoln resident.

He wants the mayor's education campaign to focus on teaching children to know about and respect guns and their capabilities, like he remembers growing up. 

The mayor said the PSAs produced in this campaign will be available to families, but she disputed his point that children aren't learning about the danger of guns.

"Our kids are getting an education in guns that you and I never had to have," she told him, pointing out that Lincoln Public Schools students will be having lockdown drills to practice for what to do in an active shooter scenario. 

"Our kids see it and know it, and they're hiding under desks because of it," she said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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Local government reporter

Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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