Police and local leaders plead with community to prioritize gun safety to save lives

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio – Following several incidents involving young children having access to loaded guns, community activists like Al Porter Jr., are saying enough is enough and calling on parents to do more.

“I ask, I beg, I put on those who have guns to make sure the access can’t be there for these young kids,” Al Porter Jr. said last Wednesday in Warrensville Heights; Police say a three-year-old boy gained access to a gun, shot himself and committed suicide.

Earlier in June, a 10-year-old boy also died after Cleveland police said a gun the child’s aunt was holding fired through the ceiling into his bedroom.

“It’s hard to hold a three-year-old child, a five-year-old child, a 10-year-old child accountable if they didn’t bring that gun inside the house,” Porter said.

Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender agrees with Porter.

He says that while his community hasn’t had this issue, they are trying to be proactive to prevent a tragedy.

“We have been a proponent of handing out gun locks, anyone asking for one. They are available here at our department,” Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender said.

For parent gun owners, Fender recommends storing unloaded guns in a locked place, with ammunition stored separately.

If your gun is not in storage, Fender says it should belong to the owner and under their immediate control.

He adds that locks are a good safety device and that parents should talk to their children about what to do if they see a gun outside the house.

“Our children are too important. We want to make sure responsible gun owners have the right gear, lock up mechanisms to keep their own children safe,” Fender said.

Chief says free padlocks are available anytime from the police department and you can get one even if you don’t live in town.

Public Affairs Sergeant Jennifer Ciaccia says the Cleveland Community Relations Office also has locks and pamphlets. You can call them at 216-623-5080.

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