By AMY LINDBLOM
Just in time for the holidays, 6,400 free gun locks are being given out in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.
The locks fit handguns, revolvers, pump-action shotguns, bolt-action rifles and any other gun that will accommodate a cable and a padlock.
Locks are available at Angels Camp and Sonora police departments and Calaveras and Tuolumne County sheriff's departments during regular business hours.
Each law enforcement agency in the two counties received 1,400 locks courtesy of Project ChildSafe, a program developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The lock is designed to stop accidental discharge by disabling a gun's firing mechanism. Each lock is individually keyed and simple to use.
Every firearm owner is encouraged to keep weapons in a safe or to have a locking device, said Sonora Police Chief Duane Ellis.
"We felt responsible to make these available to the public," said Angels Camp Police Chief Tony Tacheira. "There is always a concern for gun safety."
Both Sonora and Angels Camp police departments are starting by giving away two locks per household. If more are needed, more will be ordered through the program.
"We have a lot of hunters in the area and as I have done when my kids were little, I showed them how to be around guns safely," Ellis said. "But with these locks, the guns can't be fired."
In Tuolumne County, the locks are available at the sheriff's Sonora Community Services Unit office in The Junction shopping center.
"We'll give them away until we run out, and we'll order more if we need more," said Tacheira. "Anything to keep the community safe."