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St. Louis school leaders to give out free gun locks to help keep students safe

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Chad Davis
St. Louis Public Radio
Leaders of St. Louis Public Schools, charter schools at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department discussed the launch of Educators for Gun Safety at the downtown St. Louis Public Library's Central Library. The initiative aims to reduce gun-related incidents by giving out free gun locks and teaching people how to use them.

St. Louis Public Schools officials and charter school leaders plan to distribute gun locks to ensure that gun owners keep their weapons out of students’ hands.

Educators for Gun Safety is working with Lock it for Love and Women's Voices to give away free gun locks. The initiative will also teach people how to use gun locks to ensure their weapons are safe and secure. The collaborative will give out its first gun locks May 7 at Vashon High School. Leaders will hold another event at Aspire Academy at a later date.

“I don't want to be naïve about this, we cannot stop anybody from picking up a gun,” St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said. “What we can try to do however is get the message out that there is a way to prevent a kid from picking up that gun and harming himself.”

Adams said 34 students under age 18 across the St. Louis area have been shot this year, and seven of them died. He said the district has confiscated at least 10 guns since the start of the school year.

He said the need for gun safety was made clear by several recent shootings, including a March incident where the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said a 10-year-old accidentally shot and killed his 12-year-old brother.

“I can't tell you how many funerals I've attended, I can't tell you how many condolences I've written,” Adams said. “I can't tell you how many phone calls I've made to students, families who have lost their lives as a result of some kind of violence, but mainly around gun violence.”

Adams said the coronavirus pandemic forced many people to stay home, and during that time some children found unsecured guns. Other school leaders also worry that, as the summer starts and students stay home for long periods of time, students could again have greater access to weapons.

“School is coming to an end, and the summer months or vacation is approaching, so this is fresh on our minds as our children tend to spend more time away from school,” Confluence Academies CEO Candice Carter-Oliver said. “We must get weapons secured before kids get home.”

The St. Louis Public Library already is distributing free gun locks at its branches. Library leaders have received positive feedback from those who have picked up locks, said Dominique Newton, St. Louis Public Library branch assistant manager.

“We have been seeing a sign of joy, signs of hope, showing relief that this reoccurrence of accidental deaths will not happen with them," Newton said. “We will be a safe haven throughout the summer, our doors are open to the public. We will not stop working with our partners in the community to solve the problem that our kids are facing.”

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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