Cincinnati City Council is considering expanding its free gun lock program to encourage more compliance with its recently passed gun storage law.
During a Public Safety and Governance Committee meeting on Feb. 22, councilmembers Meeka Owens and Scotty Johnson submitted a motion that city officials provide a report to council outlining the feasibility and cost of expanding the city’s free gun lock program.
Currently, gun owners can pick up free gun locks at any Cincinnati Police district headquarters, but council wants to see gun locks passed out at the city’s recreation centers, health facilities, fire facilities and City Hall.
On Feb. 8, council unanimously approved an ordinance requiring gun owners who live with children to lock up their weapons at home, either in a gun safe or locked box, or by placing a lock on the gun itself. The ordinance mentions the October shooting death of a three-year-old in Cincinnati. The child’s six-year-old brother reportedly shot and killed the toddler after finding a loaded gun in their home. The ordinance also mentions the death of an eight-year-old who shot and killed himself after finding a handgun in his house.
The city will have 30 days to provide the report to council, including which facilities should be prioritized for gun lock distribution based on the top 10 neighborhoods for violent crime.
According to CincyInsights, there have been 23 reported shootings in the city so far this year. There were 342 shootings in 2022, just four less than in 2021.
“Of course we’d like to see this happen across the city, but if we have to be strategic in the way we think about this approach then focusing on areas where gun violence is happening,” Owens said.
Vice mayor Jan-Michele Kearney said expanding the program beyond district headquarters might make some gun owners more comfortable.
“Our Cincinnati Police Department provides gun locks, some people are nervous about going there to get them or talking to their neighborhood liaison officer, our rec centers might be easier access for them,” Kearney said. “We’re not taking away anyone’s right to have a gun, we’re saying you’ve got to lock it up.”
Cincinnati Police will present to council members during a special meeting on Feb. 23 on gun violence as a public health crisis. The department is expected to present data on gun violence in the city as well as information about a public partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
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