Name: Sheriff Carl J. Gotwald Sr.
Department: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Brookville, Pennsylvania
How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office distributes the Project ChildSafe locks from our office to any individual in need. We also provide locks at off-site events such as The Night Out for Child Safety and the local fair. We also supply locks to our Adult and Juvenile Probation Department, as well as the Children and Youth Services.
Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?
Project ChildSafe is a program that hits close to home for me. At one particular birthday party when my grandchildren were younger, one of the children went into a bedroom and came out carrying a handgun. The door was shut but the kids were able to get in and find their parents’ weapon. If it had not been for a safety lock on the firearm, there was the possibility that someone would not be able to enjoy their next birthday. Any firearm that is not secured in a safe or safety container should have a safety lock of some kind attached.
How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?
The Sheriff’s Office has distributed hundreds of locks over the years. I can happily say we have had no accidental shootings in Jefferson County – a statistic that we aim to keep going for many years to come. Hopefully by providing literature and locks to so many, we have averted an accidental shooting by a minor or adult.
How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?
There are many helpful courses and online resources, including Project ChildSafe, that provide information and materials on gun safety. This means that educational materials, quizzes and videos are readily available to anyone in the community. Further, the NRA has gun safety instructors who offer hands-on classes for novice or seasoned firearms owners.
Lastly, we welcome anyone in our community to contact our sheriff or police departments and ask for information on safe handling and storage of firearms.