Denver is giving away 1,200 gun locks to help curb youth violence

Denver is giving away free gun locks to help end youth violence. The gun locks, similar to the one pictured here, prevent guns from being loaded or fired unless a person has the key. By Alicia Lee, CNN

(CNN) -- From the Columbine shooting in 1999 to last year's shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, Colorado has stood as the scene for far too many acts of youth gun violence.

To help prevent further atrocities, Denver is giving away 1,200 free gun locks to residents at several churches in the area on Sunday.

"Youth are getting access to unsecured guns, and incidents are escalating with tragic results. In one of the safest big cities in the country, that is unacceptable and we know it's preventable," Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement. "We want to empower every resident to make a difference. Grabbing a free gun lock and securing a weapon is one action we can all take right now to keep young people safe."

The gun locks, supplied by the Denver Police Department and Project Child Safe, consist of a lock and cable. A gun owner can string the cable through the gun and lock it to prevent it from being loaded or fired unless the lock is opened with a key.

It is estimated that some 700 young people in Denver are killed or injured by guns, or are victims of gun-related crimes each year, according to a 2019 report by Denver Public Health. Black and Hispanic youth are far more likely to experience gun violence than white non-Hispanic youth.

"Gun violence is plaguing our cities, our nation and the very soul of our society, and it's even more devastating to our communities and families when it impacts our children and youth," Hancock said at the time of the report's release.

"The city is committed to promoting the policies and deploying the resources necessary to keep our young people safe."

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