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By Bettina Weiss
September 29, 2015
Caption : The US Department of Justice awarded $2 million to the National Shooting Sports Foundation for their Project ChildSafe Program.     

While the federal government has been inactive in legislating on gun violence, the Department of Justice awarded $2 million to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). As the firearm industry’s trade association, NSSF has been promoting firearm safety and distribute free gun locks. Known to oppose the Obama Administration’s legislative efforts to reduce gun violence, the NSSF is located in Newtown, Connecticut.

Despite the opposition, the DOJ awarded the organization a $2,446,888 grant. While the actual grant does not cite a receiving program, the NSSF explains that the funds will go toward “providing firearm safety education messaging and free gun locks through NSSF’s Project ChildSafe program to communities throughout the country, to encourage responsible firearm storage and help reduce firearm accidents, theft and misuse.”

Project ChildSafe calls itself “a real solution to making our communities safer” that has brought in more than 15,000 law enforcement partnerships agencies to distribute more than 36 million firearms safety kits to gun owners in all 50 states and the five U.S. territories.

While the NSSF considers the allocation a victory, the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) sees the money distribution differently. In its press release, CSGV highlighted the shortcomings of the program:

“The program has been beset with problems from the start.  After hundreds of thousands of its gun locks were recalled for being too fragile and flimsy, NSSF lost federal funding for Project ChildSafe in 2009…Obliged to fund the program on its own, NSSF scaled it back significantly, leading to complaints from police departments. In addition, NSSF actively lobbies against any and all reforms that would prevent children from gaining unauthorized access to firearms, to include Child Access Prevention laws and regulations that would require parents to store firearms safely in homes with children.”

CSGV Communications Director Ladd Everitt is adamant on protesting the DOJ’s decision. “Bottom Line. There is nothing wrong with promoting gun safety and distributing gun locks, but whatever good might be done by Project ChildSafe is vastly outweighed by the harm NSSF does in lobbying for reckless gun laws,” he said. “No taxpayer in America should have to foot the bill for a profit-focused lobby looking to improve its public image.”

The irony of NSSF’s location is not lost on anyone. As Newtown, and the rest of the country, approaches the three-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 28 people dead, including 20 children, the grant has been met with disgust.

“As we approach the third anniversary of the horrific and senseless shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, we deserve more from our government,” said Po Murray, Chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance,”We call on Americans to sign our petition and demand that DOJ stop funding an organization that promotes a lethal ‘Any Gun, Anywhere, Anytime’ agenda. If the interest here really is reducing gun violence, there are plenty of reputable law enforcement organizations that would be more appropriate recipients for this grant.”

CSGV and Newtown Action Alliance have created a petition with 21 sponsoring organizations and more than 9,250 signatures to boycott the allowance and plan to deliver their petition directly to DOJ at the agency’s headquarters in the coming weeks.

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