LINCOLN — The state’s second-largest city unveiled two steps Thursday to combat gun violence, though the initiatives fell short of a gun control group’s call that guns be required to be locked away when stored in homes.
Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced that free gun locks will be offered to applicants for state handgun purchase permits in Lancaster County and that the city will step up public education efforts, including more public service announcements, about gun safety strategies.
The steps grew from the work of a city task force that looked at safe storage of guns and limiting children’s access to firearms. Gaylor Baird said gun violence is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted approach.
“We have watched in horror as tragedy upon tragedy have robbed too many children and adults of their futures,” the mayor said in a press release.
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Gaylor Baird added that she backs additional steps, including two ordinances pending before the Lincoln City Council that would require guns left in cars to be locked in a trunk or lockable container, and mandate that citizens report the discovery of gun thefts within 48 hours.
Representatives of a gun range and a gun control group both praised the steps announced Thursday, but had mixed views about the proposed ordinances.
Brenden Rageth, a manager of Big Shots gun range in Lincoln, said the store already stresses gun safety with its customers and has helped produce public service announcements with anti-suicide groups about safe storage of guns.
However, Rageth said the proposed ordinances would be hard to enforce and would tend to punish victims of crime who had guns stolen. He added that he doesn’t know a gun owner who doesn’t report the theft of firearms.
Amanda Gailey, the president of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, applauded the steps taken Thursday as “very positive first steps.” But Gailey said she’s hoping that the Lincoln City Council will take additional steps that require guns stored at home to be locked away so children and others who are unauthorized cannot access them.
The majority of school shooters, she said, obtain guns from homes, adding that locking away guns is also an effective suicide prevention strategy.