SEATTLE – Citing dozens of preventable deaths and injuries, King County officials launched a new campaign on Monday called Safe Storage Saves Lives, a plea to ask residents to lock up all firearms and keep them out of the hands of children and criminals.
Armed with a stack of statistics, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a new campaign to protect kids from the guns in their own homes.
"The evidence is clear. Safe storage saves lives,” Constantine said.
County officials, local law enforcement and firearm retailers are teaming up to get the word out to prevent avoidable deaths and injuries.
Between 1999 and 2012, 68 children in King County died from gunshot wounds and 125 others were seriously injured by gunfire.
Constantine said, "Having 30,000 loaded and unlocked guns in homes and 5,000 kids in those homes is a prescription for tragedy.”
Unsecured weapons are also prime targets in residential burglaries. Those stolen guns are often used to commit other crimes or shootings.
King County Sheriff John Urquhart said, "It's time for lock boxes and gun safes to be as normal as wearing a seatbelt.”
Experts suggest that guns should be unloaded and stored in one place and ammo should be kept locked away in a different location.
Retailers such asSports Authority, Costco and others will be offering discounts on locks and safes from now through the end of 2014 as part of the program.
Constantine said, "This could become the new norm. If you have a gun in your home, it should be safely stored.”