Sheriff sponsors child firearms safety program

Sunday, June 19, 2016

HERITAGE LAKE -- In an effort to educate local children on the dangers presented by firearms, Sheriff Scott Stockton on Wednesday took Project ChildSafe to Kid's Count Camp at Heritage Lake.

The program is part of a larger effort by the sheriff's department as well as a nationwide effort to educate kids about guns and what to do should they find one.

"As the sheriff of Putnam County it is incumbent upon me to serve and protect the public but even more importantly the children," Stockton said. "This is why I recently participated with the Kids Count Camp held at Heritage Lake with a message of gun safety, as well as water safety."

According to, guns are possessed by more than one-third of Americans in their homes.

"This presents a very real danger to children," Stockton said. "This is why it's imperative to talk to kids about the potential dangers of guns, and what to do if they find one.

"If a person keeps a gun in the house, it's vital to keep it out of sight and out of reach of kids. If not stored in a safe, a gun should be kept locked and unloaded, and the ammunition should be stored separately."

The "Eddie Eagle" program sponsored by ChildSafe involves showing a short animated movie about what to do if a child would find a gun. Eddie presents a four-step model for children to follow:

* Stop what they're doing;

* Do not touch the gun;

* Leave the area where the gun is; and

* Tell an adult right away.

In addition to the lesson, children are given a certificate pledging they promise to follow the steps of safety if they ever find a gun.

"It's particularly important for kids to leave the area to avoid being harmed by someone who doesn't know not to touch the gun," Stockton said. "A child as young as three years old has the finger strength to pull a trigger. It's also important for kids to tell an adult about a gun that has been found."

Sheriff Stockton also advises parents not only to promote gun safety in their own homes, but to be vigilant about the other places their kids may be guests.

"I recommend discussing gun safety with the parents of friends if your child spends any amount of time in their homes," Stockton said. "It may feel initially awkward, but parents and guardians will understand you only have a child's safety in mind. If there is a gun in the friend's home, as the parent of guardian you must decide if it poses a safety risk to the child. If you're uncomfortable, consider offering to host at your house instead."

As an additional safety measure, the sheriff provides free gunlock cables to any Putnam County resident during business hours at the Sheriff's Office, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Eddie Eagle and Sheriff Stockton reached 75-80 kids during the Kids Count event, with certificates provided to all the young people upon completion.

Stockton was joined at the event by Water Safety Officer Kim Suiters, who handled the water safety portion of the program.

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