A Project ChildSafe gun lock that is available at the Everett Police Department on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A Project ChildSafe gun lock that is available at the Everett Police Department on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Stolen firearm reports down, gun lock giveaways up in Everett

The program was designed to reduce violent crime, which has, but the relationship isn’t clear.

EVERETT — Police have handed out hundreds of gun locks and received fewer firearm theft reports since 2018.

The Everett Police Department program began as a result of executive orders Mayor Cassie Franklin issued after she took office to address violence.

“Properly securing firearms is part of keeping guns safe and out of the hands of youth,” Everett Police Department spokesman Aaron Snell said in an email.

Cases of property and violent crime — aggravated assault, murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape and robbery — dropped between 2008 and 2018, according to FBI data.

As of March 10, Everett police had given away 38 gun locks this year through the Lock It Everett program. Last year, officers distributed 292 of the cable and padlock devices. In 2018, 325 were claimed.

Project ChildSafe, a firearms safety education program developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, supplies law enforcement and other groups across the country with the locks. Most departments in Snohomish County partner with the program at no cost. A cable lock for a gun costs about $10 retail, National Shooting Sports Foundation spokesman Bill Brassard said in an email.

Everett paired that firearm safety effort with a $250 fine for someone who didn’t report a lost or stolen gun within 24 hours.

Since the gun lock program and penalty began, people reported fewer lost or stolen firearms. In 2017, 171 guns were reported lost or stolen. The next year, that dropped to 123 and that downward trend continued to 79 last year. The effect of the gun lock program on stolen firearms wasn’t clear.

“We believe people asking for locks intend to use them,” Snell said. “Unfortunately, there is no way to assess whether they are used or if a gun is safely stored.”

The Everett Police Department recovered more guns over the same four-year span: 26 in 2016, 38 in 2017, 41 in 2018, and 55 last year.

A wave of firearm restrictions and safety measures have been enacted by lawmakers and voters since 2017, when a Las Vegas gunman opened fire on a concert crowd, killing 58 and injuring more than 850. In 2018, Washington voters backed I-1639, which included background checks, longer waiting periods and increased age requirements for semiautomatic rifles, and gun storage.

The free gun locks normally are available for anyone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at both the downtown police station on Wetmore Avenue or South Precinct on Everett Mall Way. But the program is suspended until city-enacted COVID-19 closures end. The police department had more than 500 locks available and was requesting more.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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