The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department launched a new campaign Wednesday aimed at stopping accidental gun deaths and keeping guns out of the hands of children.
The campaign was designed as three public service announcements which will run across LASD's social media accounts. At a news conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell cited a national study that showed 4.6 million children live in households that have unsecured weapons. He said those numbers are behind the life-saving message of the campaign, "If they're not secure, they're not safe."
"This is not only common sense, but keeping firearms locked up is the law," McDonnell said. "Their children may know where they store their gun, even if their parents don't believe they do."
McDonnell also referred to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which found 3,000 children were unintentionally shot, and 127 where killed, in incidents resulting from improperly stored guns. A group of guns which are tied to tragic stories were on display at the news conference. Authorities described some of the cases including the death of a 14-year-old boy who shot himself with a rifle after reaching a key to get it out of a locked cabinet. Another case was that of a 13-year-old child who fatally shot himself with a pistol after getting the key to the lock box from a desk drawer.
"These cases are just a few of the examples of the all too common tragedies that law enforcement officers across the country respond to on an all to frequent basis," LASD Capt. Steve Katz said. "In these examples you can see that these weapons were thought to be secured properly, and then access was still obtained and then a tragic outcome."
The PSA is expected to reach LASD's nearly eight million social media users. McDonnell said he encourages the public to also share the PSA with family and friends in hopes of getting the message into more households.
"It's something that they live with for the rest of their lives thinking, I could have done something different, I should have done something different, I didn't think they'd be able to reach it and those kinds of things," McDonnell explained. "That's a scar left on the survivor's that they can ever move away from."