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Health Officials Take A Shot At Gun Safety With Discounted Safes

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna
An example of a safe displayed at a recent press conference to promote a new discount program to improve gun safety.

In the quest to improve gun safety, public health officials are borrowing a practice that’s common in car sales — talking up safety features. Now when people shop for guns, they’ll be encouraged to exercise safety and buy a lockbox as well.
Mike Coombs is president of Outdoor Emporium, one of 10 retailers working with Seattle-King
County Public Health to promote gun safety. At a press conference Monday, he showed off a Bulldog Safe, one of the safes that his store sells that opens and shuts like one you’d find in a hotel room. Punching in the code takes a few seconds, he said.

Participating shops are offering discounts on the safes as an incentive to get more people to purchase them. “People say it’s too expensive, but what is a person’s life worth?” he said. “It’s worth a lot more than $70 for this, or $500 for this.”

King County’s campaign is driven by new data. Research shows that in the last 13 years, 68 children in King County died from gun violence. Twenty-five of those deaths were suicides.

Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings has seen the toll firsthand. She recalled responding to a shooting incident early in her career that has stayed with her. Two friends found a rifle in the closet of a boy’s home, and decided to play Army. The friend took the rifle, pulled the trigger and shot the boy in the head.

“The friend ran out of the house, calling for help,” Cummings said. “I’ve never forgotten that night, and the image of that boy lying on the bedroom floor, or the image of the friend, sobbing in the back of the police car.”

Cummings says part of their job as officers is to protect citizens. And the public can help support their work by locking up their guns.

Year started with KUOW: 1994