Gun locks available at police station

ALPENA – In recent news, a four-year-old playing with a gun accidentally shot another four-year-old in Detroit. And a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that 20 children and teens were hospitalized every day in 2009 due to firearms injuries.

However, in Alpena, police officers on Tuesday couldn’t recall a single case of a child being injured.

“It’s a hunting community,” Police Officer Tim Marquardt said.

As a DARE and community services officer, he’s also been responsible for handing out almost 2,000 cable-style gun locks to residents in the last 11 years.

“I not only use the firearms I’m issued, I have my own at home,” Marquardt said. “The locks are one more contingency plan not only for my children but if someone comes over.”

The campaign to provide gun locks was begun in 2003 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation as a campaign called Project Child Safe, he said. The U.S. Department of Justice provided a grant to fund the effort.

According to www.projectchildsafe.org, more than 36 million locks have been distributed to gun owners through police departments in the United States. As one of the only departments in a four-county area, that job falls to Alpena.

However, Marquardt said he’s disappointed when he finds one of the free devices being used to close a high school locker or secure a bicycle to a rack.

The locks cost about $6 each, he said.

So residents, allowed up to four locks each, must sign for them, he said. The locks are available at the station at 501 W. Chisholm St. during the day.

The locks can be used on revolvers, semi-automatic handguns, shotguns and rifles, he said.

“You can always find a way to run the cable through a gun so the mechanism doesn’t work,” he said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.