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June 25, 2016

Temple Hospital employee giving away free gun locks

Firearm safety advocate reminding Twitter of offer after North Philly child's death

After a 4-year-old girl fatally shot herself in the face in North Philadelphia Thursday, a local health leader is reminding firearm owners that he gives away gun safety devices.

Scott Charles, trauma outreach coordinator for Temple University Hospital and gun safety advocate, offers free gun locks to anyone who wants one, something he reminded people of on his Twitter account after the news of the toddler's death.

David Gambacorta of PhillyMag pointed out Charles' offer in a column Thursday urging gun owners to get a lock. He spoke to Charles (a gun owner himself), who said he's had to fend off critics who doubt the practicality of a gun lock:

Charles said some people who took issue with his offer of free gun locks argued that an intruder won’t wait for a gun owner to unlock his weapon. “I did the math. You know how many hours a bad guy was in my house last year? Zero,” he said. “You know how many hours children were in my house? Several thousand. I’m just playing the laws of probability.”

Charles delivered some locks to Bilal Qayyum, a community activist, on Thursday. Qayyum distributed the locks to interested residents.

Locks are considered an effective way to prevent an unintended shot being fired from a gun. The NRA calls them a "simple and affordable option for preventing a gun from being loaded or fired by an unauthorized user." 

However, gun locks are not perfect solutions, and there are other ways to prevent a child from accessing a gun, such as gun cases and education.

The issue of children dying from accidental gun deaths has become an epidemic. According to data compiled by the group Everytown For Gun Safety, since the beginning of 2015, there have been 393 accidental child shootings in the United States, 138 of which were fatal. That doesn't include Thursday's shooting.

If you're a Philadelphia gun owner who wants a lock, you can reach out to Charles on Twitter at @TheScottCharles.