Milwaukee offers free gun locks in hopes of ‘safer summer’

MILWAUKEE — A citywide handout of gun locks aims to curtail the gun violence this summer in Wisconsin’s largest city. In the hope of creating a “safer summer,” Milwaukee leaders shared a simple message Monday for gun owners across the city: “if you’ve got it, lock it.”

The gun safety initiative is a partnership between United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM), the city’s police and fire departments, the Office of Violence Prevention and several other community organizations. In a news conference at Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, Milwaukee fire and police officials said they expect gun locks to help prevent in-home accidents and suicides, while also adding an additional few seconds for a potential shooter to reconsider.

“It is not sustainable to continue down the path that we are on when the answers, some of them, are this simple,” Milwaukee Fire Department chief Aaron Lipski said.

Police chief Jeffrey Norman said free locks will not solve gun violence on their own, but a step toward gun safety is a step toward violence prevention.

“This is a tool amongst many tools that are provided for our community to provide a safer Milwaukee,” Norman said.

UNCOM executive director Renée Logee said when neighbors pick up gun locks from the organization’s home office, they are often surprised at the simplicity of the process and lack of paperwork.

“No questions, no judgment,” Logee said. “We just want them to lock it up.”

The eight member agencies under the UNCOM umbrella all have designated pickup times for gun locks. This summer the Office of Violence Prevention will also supply gun locks for pick up at all police and fire stations across the city.

“It really should be that simple,” Logee said. “If it helps just one person, all of this work is worth it.”

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