WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A longtime partner with police says “secure storage” of firearms works.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation operates Project Childsafe, a program that provides free gun locks and education about safe gun storage.
The project’s slogan tells gunowners, “Own It? Respect It. Secure It.”
“We are committed to promoting genuine firearms safety through the distribution of safety education messages and free firearm safety kits to communities across the U.S.,” its website says.
The Senior Director of Communications Bill Brassard says safe and secure gun storage can lower the risk of crime and suicide.
“When a gun is securely stored, it places time and distance between the person who may be in crisis and being able to access a lethal means,” Brassard said.
At the same press conference, Wichita Police Lieutenant Kevin Kochenderfer specifically noted a recent issue in the city, where 109 guns have been stolen from motor vehicles as of June 16.
KSN’s Krystle Sherrell reported on the problem this month.
“It doesn’t have to focus on gun locks,” Kochenderfer said. “Proper storage of firearms, whether they’re left inside of a vehicle and are taken by somebody that breaks into a car, improper storage inside of a house or a household accident that happens.”
Kochenderfer is the Rangermaster for WPD, and Firearms Instructor at the law enforcement training center in Sedgwick County. He’s also the SWAT commander for WPD and says this improper storage can lead to deadly situations. In certain cases, he says, it already has, seeming to reference the murder of Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Kunze in 2018.
“We’ve had a couple of incidents across the city where a car that has been broken into, firearms taken out of cars,” Kochenderfer said. “Law enforcement officers here just in the last year have been shot, one killed.”
He said this makes it hit home with officers. He also turned attention to accidental shootings, like that of Royale Spencer, a boy shot and killed by a young friend in an accident.
“We’ve had small children that have found these weapons in the last year or two years that there’s been home accidents where kids have been shot,” Kochenderfer said. “So it’s something that we need to address and hopefully this is the first step in doing it.”
Gun locks are available with the police department as part of Project Childsafe. You can find more information on the project’s recommendations for secure storage and gun safety education on their website.