King County unveils discounts for gun-safety devices
About 70 King County children have died of gunshot wounds since 1999. A new program, “LokItUp,” aims to address the issue through discounted gun-safety devices and emphasis by law-enforcement agencies.
Seattle Times staff reporter
It’s a holiday shopping deal that King County officials say could literally save lives.
Executive Dow Constantine and Sheriff John Urquhart unveiled a program Monday to promote gun safety through discounts on some lockboxes, safes and trigger locks.
Customers will get 10 percent to 15 percent off the devices when they mention the “LokItUp” program or “Public Health” at participating stores, and law-enforcement agencies will emphasize safety to applicants for concealed-pistol licenses.
“It’s time for lockboxes and storage cases to be as common as seat belts,” Urquhart said at a news conference.
The owners of 15 retailers so far have signed onto the Safe Storage Saves Lives campaign by pledging to offer discounts on at least one item through the end of 2014.
One of them, Outdoor Emporium’s Mike Coombs, predicted the campaign will be “absolutely effective.”
The announcement, which came just as Connecticut officials released a report about last December’s deadly elementary-school shooting, was timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season.
“We want to be part of the shopping frenzy that’s going to ensue soon,” said Tony Gomez of Public Health-Seattle & King County, calling gun-safety devices a “good holiday gift.”
Gomez and other public-health officials recently finished a report that found gun violence among children to be a major problem in the Seattle area.
Sixty-eight children (17 years old or younger) died because of gunshot wounds between 1999 and 2012, according to the report. An additional 125 were seriously injured.
Some 60 percent of the fatalities were homicides, while nearly 40 percent were suicides.
During the 2011-2012 school year, 52 King County public-school students were suspended or expelled for having a gun on school grounds.
And while most owners unload and lock up their guns, the report found that 17 percent do neither. About 5,000 children live in those roughly 30,000 homes, according to the report.
“What if 17 percent of children were not in car seats,” asked Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings. “Would that be OK?”
Cummings said the campaign is “not saying anything about the Second Amendment. But with rights come responsibilities.”
Indeed, gun-rights advocates said they like the idea.
“It’s voluntary, so it’s perfectly fine with us,” said Alan Gottlieb, of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, although he noted he was not alerted about the campaign ahead of time.
Gottlieb is preparing for a political battle that is expected to play out next year, when his Initiative 591 heads for the ballot alongside Initiative 594.
Initiative 594 would expand background checks to private gun transactions, while Initiative 591 would prevent Washington state from taking that step unless it is required by the federal government.
Both measures are expected to qualify for the ballot in November 2014.
Washington’s last gun-related initiative concerned mandatory safety requirements: Initiative 676, which would have required trigger locks and safety training, received just 29 percent of the vote.
Last year, state Senate Democrats unsuccessfully pushed a bill to criminalize leaving a loaded firearm where a child could likely gain access.
For more information on the new campaign, visit www.LokItUp.org.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal