With more people buying guns since carrying a concealed weapon became legal Jan. 1, local lawmen are pushing for parents packing heat to make sure their weapons are safe.
"If you're going to have guns in your house, lock them up," District Attorney Charles Branson said Tuesday.
Branson and Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern warned gun-owning parents Tuesday about the risk of having unlocked firearms stashed in closets and dresser drawers where kids can find them.
To help ensure the guns are kid-proof while stowed away, Branson and McGovern will boost availability of free gun locks throughout the area, including handing them out at the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine Office, 346 Maine.
The locks, provided by the national Project ChildSafe program, now also will be available at the sheriff's and district attorney's offices.
Both offices are in the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St.
The project came about during conversations between Branson and McGovern, who decided that the push to give parents gun locks should coincide with the state's new concealed-carry gun law.
"This would be a good time to make sure people are using them," McGovern said.
The effort marks the county's first attempt at a sustainable program to distribute the gun locks. Previously, the locks were available only at safety fairs and similar events.
Now, people can walk into the law enforcement center and get them for free.
Branson said distributing them at the pediatric office was important because it serves new parents who may be gun owners.
"We're not advocating one way or the other," he said. "But what we are saying is that guns are very dangerous, and people should take care."