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Project Home Safe Under Fire For Giving Out Defective Gun Locks

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DURHAM — Law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are halting a free gun lock giveaway. The devices that they have been handing out may not work correctly, making guns with the locks anything but safe.

Durham and Raleigh police began giving away the free gun locks throughProject Home Safefive months ago. The hope was to make gun owners feel more sure that their weapons were safe from children. However, the locks can pop out on the gun with just one tap on the ground.

"It's a big concern to us that local law enforcement has given out several of these locks, and they have potential problems with them," says Sgt. Adam Clayton of theDurham County Sheriff's Office. "They can come open, and that certainly concerns us a lot."

Brenda Howerton, a proponent of stricter gun laws after losing two sons to gun violence, says she is concerned the locks may give people a false sense of security.

"There should have been a lot of testing before they were given out to the public -- not just to distribute them and have people believe that they were going to work, and then find out they don't work," she says.

More than 400,000 of the gun locks have been handed out across the country. TheNational Shooting Sports Foundation(NSSF), which oversees the program, has decided to postpone any additional distribution of the locks.

"We are recommending that no additional locks be distributed by our law enforcement partners while we seek additional information," says Robert T. Delfay, NSSF President and Chief Executive Officer.

For those who are using the gun locks, local law enforcement says it is not necessary to remove them, but more safety precautions are necessary.

"We want to let them know to go to a secondary device such as a lock box or another type of trigger guard or trigger lock," Clayton says.

The NSSF says it is in the process of testing and evaluating a sampling of the locks. It plans to decide within the next few days if the locks with be recalled.

The Durham County Sheriff's Office said it has tested 30 of the gun locks in question. Although some of those gun locks required a little more force than others, all of the gun locks that were tested popped out.