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Gun in the house? Here’s a way to help keep your kids safe

Free gun locks available from PeaceHealth clinics, Yeager's Sporting Goods in Bellingham

John "Westy" Westerfield, vice president and general manager of Yeager's Sporting Goods in Bellingham, shows how to use a gun lock on different guns at the store Thursday Nov. 17, 2016. Gun locks are provided for free by the National Shooting Spor
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John "Westy" Westerfield, vice president and general manager of Yeager's Sporting Goods in Bellingham, shows how to use a gun lock on different guns at the store Thursday Nov. 17, 2016. Gun locks are provided for free by the National Shooting Spor

Project Child Safe, a firearm safety initiative aimed at preventing gun-related childhood accidents, is providing gun locks and safety information to PeaceHealth pediatricians for their patients. PeaceHealth Medical Group, Yeager’s Sporting Goods, National Shooting Sports Foundation and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department are collaborating on the project.

At least one child is accidentally killed by a gun every other day in the U.S., according to research carried out by the Associated Press and USA Today Network in 2016.

Children are curious little creatures. They love to learn and touch and feel and see. For that reason, it is imperative that parents keep their guns locked and safe.

John ‘Westy’ Westerfield, vice president and general manager of Yeager’s Sporting Goods

“Every time there is a major national incident, we do see a spike in gun sales,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said. Whatcom County issued 1,614 concealed pistol licenses in 2015; the number was 1,881 by September 2016, Elfo said.

Project Child Safe took shape in August 2016 when PeaceHealth put on a health and safety fair for local families.

“We reached out to Yeager’s for this and met John ‘Westy’ Westerfield, a passionate individual who lives and breathes gun safety. He came to us with a proposal. There was so much interest in gun locks at the fair that it made us realize there was a community need,” said Hilary Andrade, PeaceHealth spokeswoman.

The project started Nov. 2 with 150 gun locks and gun safety educational materials to supply to PeaceHealth pediatricians in Bellingham, Burlington and Friday Harbor.

“We got a very positive reaction from the community. I posted it on our Facebook page, and we got 24 likes, a few shares, someone commented. It is not at all what we call viral, but for a medical center, it is a pretty good response,” Andrade said.

“Children are curious little creatures. They love to learn and touch and feel and see. For that reason, it is imperative that parents keep their guns locked and safe,” said Westerfield, vice president and general manager of Yeager’s.

Westerfield, who has been a hunter and shooter for more than 50 years, has extensive training in firearms safety and says he shares that training whenever and wherever possible.

“I have been working in the firearm industry in different capacities, and safety has always been important to me since I took my first firearm safety training at 15. Many people here who haven’t grown up in that culture definitely need more training.”

Javaria Khan 202-383-6011 @javariakh

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