Countywide project to raise awareness about dangers of unsecured weapons

SAN ANTONIO – University Health System is teaming up with other groups in the community to raise awareness about the dangers of unsecured weapons.

“This is the first time that we've had this type of partnership to distribute this many gun locks into the community,” said Jennifer Northway, director of injury protection for University Health System.

Northway said the hospital will be distributing more than 17,000 gun locks.

“We'll have both trigger locks available to those who may want them, or our cable locks,” Northway said.

She said the Injury Prevention Program is teaming up with Bexar County, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office and Be Smart, a campaign launched by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

The Be Smart campaign takes the following five steps to prevent shootings by children:

  • Secure all guns in your homes and vehicles;

  • Model responsible behavior around guns;

  • Ask about unsecured guns in other homes;

  • Recognize the role of guns in suicide;

  • Tell your peers to be smart

Northway said there are two components to the program.

“One is addressing the number of unintentional discharges that are happening and impacting children and teens. That's when a child can find a weapon, maybe touch it, move it and the weapon goes off and that child is injured or killed. The other component is making sure that folks are aware of the dangers of having an unsecured weapon in the home with somebody who has depression or who has Alzheimer's or dementia,” Northway said.

Northway said Bexar County is providing $25,000 to purchase gun locks to distribute at events and pickup locations. She said the Sheriff’s Office will provide another $25,000 for an education campaign.

University Health System said VIA Metropolitan Transit will also participate by wrapping buses with messaging that promotes gun safety.

Research shows an estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked.

“Folks can decide the type of lock that's going to be best for them. You see that I have this BB gun that has a trigger lock attached to it, and this is just to show you how a trigger lock would work. Now, one of the challenges with a trigger lock is that if there if it is loaded, that could still go off and hurt someone. Families will really need to think about the type of lock that's going to be best for them.” Northway said.

Northway said University Health System is still working on finalizing the plans. The gun locks will be distributed in November. More information will be released later.  

About the Authors:

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.