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Lock 'em up boys and girls

Cicero police teamed up with the federally funded Project Childsafe last weekend to distribute gunlocks, safety information and a little common "gun-sense" to local firearm owners.

Over 1,000 gunlocks were handed out at the Gander Mountain store on Carmenica Drive in Cicero. There were also educational brochures, children's safety pledges, badges and bookmarks. Many children signed the PCS pledge showing their commitment to being safe around firearms. Gunlocks were available for all makes and models of guns.

All in all, it was just what the doctor ordered, a local police official said.

"I've been teaching people how to handle firearms for 15 years, and this is hands down the best program when it comes to effectively dealing with children and guns," said Bruce Main, training director and head firearms instructor for the Cicero Police Department.

Main said the program's effectiveness lies in its ability to give children preventative education, while offering parents immediate protection at the same time.

"I honestly don't know why they didn't think of something like this earlier," he said. "Curiosity and inexperience are the two main ingredients behind most firearm accidents involving children, and this (program) addresses both of these issues."

Project Childsafe is a nationwide program whose purpose is to promote safe firearms handling and storage practices among all gun owners through the distribution of safety messages and free gun locking devices, more simply known as gunlocks. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Shooting Sports Foundations and is a component of the Project Safe Neighborhoods.

"All of the people who get accused of promoting firearms and irresponsible use of firearms are the ones sponsoring this program," said Robert Spangler, Project Childsafe representative. "It just goes to show that contrary to popular belief, gun manufacturers and enthusiasts do care about firearm safety."

Spangler said that over 30 million gunlocks were handed out nationwide in the three years Project Childsafe has been in operation.

"The program really sells itself," he said, adding that this will be the last year for the program. "The Department of Justice grant runs out this year, which means this is the last time you'll see us around, which is really sad considering how effective it's been."

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