Schools. Concerts. Supermarkets. Churches. Gun violence is everywhere. Now a Fort Lauderdale church is offering more than hopes and prayers — it’s offering a solution. 

United Church of Christ (UCC) is holding Gun Safety Sunday on June 26. They will hand out gun locks and information explaining why gun owners should use them.

“It was speaking to me. It was speaking to the church to do something,” Rev. Patrick Rogers said. “It definitely was God’s vision, put into me, to do something.”

The VA is providing the locks and is working with Barbara Markley, co-chair of the Gun Safety Committee with the League of Women Voters (LWV).

“I wanted to do something proactive. I found out that the VA would give us gun locks. We thought if we could get people to lock up guns then we could protect kids, protect teens, reduce suicide, and reduce crime.”

Gun safety’s been Markley’s mission for years. Since 2017, she’s helped distribute 17,000 gun locks. Now, 1,000 have been sitting in her garage waiting for this event. It’s been in the works for a while, and Markley said the idea is spreading.

“I had this idea that we could get all the [UCC] churches in Florida to participate. We would give them gun locks and brochures all at once and make it a big project.”

That caught the ear of the national fellowship, and the program could extend to all American UCC.

The gun locks come with statistics that go beyond what makes the headlines in the near-daily mass shootings in America. According to the LVW and VA, most teen suicides are committed with a gun from home, eight children are unintentionally injured or killed by a gun every day, and 4.6 million kids live in homes with unsecured guns.

“It’s not just the locks, it’s the education,” Markley said. “You’re making your family less safe. If you have an unlocked gun in the house, you are twice as likely to have a homicide, three times as likely to have a suicide, and five times as likely to have a fatality in domestic violence. Every day, 10 kids are accidentally shot. For the first time in our history of the country, guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens.” 


Gun Safety Sunday is June 26 at UCC Fort Lauderdale, 2501 NE 30 St. in Fort Lauderdale. You can visit their website at UCCFTL.org.


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