Whitney Austin is the co-founder of the Whitney/Strong gun violence prevention organization. She is also a survivor of the Fifth Third shooting that took place on Fountain Square on Sept. 6, 2018. She was shot 12 times.
Her nonprofit is "devoted to decreasing gun violence through responsible gun ownership," says a release.
And part of that current mission is to deliver 5,000 Project ChildSafe firearm safety kits to Ohio Sheriff's offices and Cincinnati Police Districts. The kits, which include gun locks, will be free as part of a partnership with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, the Cincinnati Police Department and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
All Ohio residents need to do to claim a lock is to call their respective office. Sheriff's office information is available here.
The reason for the distribution? Gun sales tend to spike in America during a crisis, says NPR, and this pandemic has been no different. That fact coupled with the fact that schools are closed and more children are spending time at home has prompted the nonprofit to make sure gun owners have their weapons safely secured.
“I am grateful to the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director, Bob Cornwell, and Cincinnati Police Chief, Eliot Isaac, for working with Whitney/Strong to distribute these gun locks that have been generously provided by NSSF along with additional firearm safety education materials,” said Whitney Austin, Whitney/Strong co-founder, in a release. “The coronavirus pandemic has raised anxieties and increased gun sales. But, the right to own a firearm comes with the responsibility of storing it safely when not in use. Our hope is that these locks and educational materials will prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands, particularly a child’s or a person at risk of harming themselves.”
Whiteny/Strong cites that in 2018, 962 Ohioans died by suicide and 48 were children 18 and younger.
"The number one way to help prevent firearm accident, theft and misuse, even suicide, is to securely store guns when not in use," reads the release from the organization.
For more information about Whitney/Strong visit whitneystrong.org.