State of Minnesota launches free gun lock giveaway

(ABC 6 News) – The initiative, "Make Minnesota Safe & Secure" aims to put 10,000 locks on guns across the state.

Starting at 7 a.m. on Thursday, state agencies will be handing out free gun locks at their booths at the Minnesota State Fair.

“Make Minnesota Safe & Secure” is an initiative spearheaded by Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to ensure every gun owner in Minnesota has a gun lock to help store firearms in a safe and secure manner—keeping them out of curious little hands, would-be thieves, and people suffering mental health crises.

The goal is to reduce suicide, theft and crimes committed with guns.

RELATED: Rochester PD is distributing free firearm safety kits

The program, which is part of a $1 million investment in gun safety paid for with federal American Rescue Plan funds, includes the departments of public safety, health, agriculture, natural resources, veterans affairs and other state agencies

The multi-agency approach to educating people in Minnesota about gun safety and getting gun locks in the hands of gun owners is in response to a nationwide increase in gun violence, which has had a devastating impact on communities and families, according to John Harrington, Minnesota’s commissioner of public safety.

“Last year, our state experienced an alarming increase in aggravated assaults and murders—most committed with a firearm,” said Harrington. “We also saw more than 1,700 guns stolen, and the thefts and shootings aren’t just occurring in large cities. They’re happening across the state."

According to data provided by the Minnesota Department of Health, societal costs associated with gun violence, suicide and health care are on the rise. In 2020:

  • There were 513 firearm-related deaths in Minnesota
  • 69% of firearms deaths were suicides, 26.9% were homicides
  • 89.3% of the decedents were male
  • 28 Minnesotans under the age of 18 lost their lives to firearms, a 75% increase over 2010.

For more information about the "Make Minnesota Safe and Secure" program, and to find out how to get a free gun lock if you’re unable to attend the Minnesota State Fair, CLICK HERE.