Chad Clark

Chad Clark

Guest Columnist

Recently, a representative from Seattle Children’s Hospital came to the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office to talk about gun safety.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, a child or teen is killed by a firearm every eight days in Washington.

The hospital’s big push was for the use of a lock box or trigger lock on firearms stored at home.

I have been with the Sheriff’s Office for 26 years and have raised three children. Because of the nature of my job, I have always had firearms in my home. We have policies that dictate our duty weapons must be locked up, and I have kept my guns secured as per policy.

Tragedies can happen when guns are not locked up. Basic trigger locks attached to weapons while they are stored could prevent many of them.

On May 13, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Skagit County partners will give away lock boxes and trigger locks from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Coastal Farm and Ranch in Mount Vernon. They will also provide hands-on training on how to use them. I encourage people to attend even if you do not own a firearm.

Gun safety is important for all Skagit County citizens.

The Sheriff’s Office supports responsible gun ownership. All types of sport hunting are offered in the county, and we support that. Being responsible with all types of guns is very important to gun owners and their families.

I have been to accidental shootings where a responsible gun owner was cleaning his gun and was hit in the hand when the gun discharged. He had the gun pointed in a safe direction, but failed to remove the bullet in the chamber.

Unfortunately, when a child who isn’t familiar with guns handles one, it could be fired with no intention of doing harm, but tragedies do occur.

County crime trends

There has been an increase in vehicle theft. So far this year, we have investigated 33 vehicle thefts — 12 of those in April. Our night shift units have been recovering stolen cars at a high rate. We recovered 42 stolen vehicles this year, with 17 of those in April.

Some were stolen in our county while others were stolen elsewhere. Car thieves are very opportunistic and will steal a vehicle that is readily available. Some tips:

n Never leave your car unlocked

n Park under a light at your home overnight

n Never leave keys in the ignition

n If you have an alarm system, make sure it’s enabled

If you run quickly into the store and leave your car running, you are taking a huge risk of having your car stolen. Do not leave anything of value in plain view.

Email with questions or ideas for future columns.

— Chad Clark is chief of Patrol Operations for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office.

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