Keeping children safe around firearms is the focus of a new program providing gun locks to East Baton Rouge residents.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the project — a partnership with the national organization Project ChildSafe — during a press conference Saturday morning at Baton Rouge Police headquarters.

Along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and other local leaders, the year-long program is aimed at preventing accidents, thefts and misuse of firearms.

Project ChildSafe is a national program through NSSF that began in 1999 to promote firearm safety. Through the organization’s efforts, anyone in the parish can pick up a free cable-style gun lock and firearm safety kit at multiple locations — no questions asked.

“When firearms are responsibly stored in the home, families and communities are safer,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said.

Firearm locks are available at all BRPD district locations throughout the year, but for those who do not feel comfortable picking up kits from a police station, they can find them at Charles R. Kelly Community Center, MLK Community Center, Cheneyville Community Center, Family & Youth Service Center, Beacon Light Church, and certain firearms retailers.

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Latonya Smith and DeJuana Banks said they decided to come to Saturday's event because they want to protect their children. Smith has a little girl and Banks has two grandchildren.

Grandfathers Al Thibodeaux, 66, and Charles Travis, 63, also said they were hoping to secure their firearms to keep their grandchildren safe.

“I have my gun where I think is a safe place that they don’t know about,” Thibodeaux said. “But what if they do get into it?”

Travis said he hopes the lock will make a difference.

“I have a lot of grandkids,” Travis said. “I tell my grandkids, don’t play with it, don’t touch it. This is something good to have around.”

Email Jacqueline DeRobertis at