Originally created 06/05/99

Keeping safe



Kathryn Rogers' son Jake is only a year old and still in a stroller -- not old enough to pick up a gun, much less strong enough to pull the trigger.

But, Mrs. Rogers got two gun locks Friday at the Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff's Department: one for her .38 caliber revolver, and one for her husband's Glock.

"We have a little child in the house, and I just want him to be safe," she said. "Especially when he gets older."

She said they have the guns for protection, and are extremely aware of gun safety. But, like many parents, she worries about accidents.

Many of the people taking advantage of the county's offer of free gun locks say their children's safety is the main reason they want the devices.

"My kids know better than to mess with the guns, and I've taught them about gun safety," said Philip Rose, the father of a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old. "But I just keep hearing bad things about kids getting hold of guns and having accidents."

Less than two hours into the giveaway, Lt. Leon Garvin estimated he had already given away about 200 of the 1,000 locks the city purchased, using a $4,000 gift from singer James Brown.

The giveaway, initiated by Mayor Bob Young, is a good way to promote gun safety and help prevent accidents, Mrs. Rogers said.

Henry Drakeford, a former officer in the Columbia area, now teaches art at Spirit Creek Middle School. He owns four guns -- two shotguns and two pistols.

"Sometimes I go to the range and shoot the pistols for recreation, and I like having them around in case I need them for self-defense," he said. He inherited the shotguns from his brother and used to hunt with them.

"People are really concerned about kids and guns," he said. "My 14-year-old son is coming to spend the summer with me, and I just want to make sure everything's locked up."

The locks will be available at the Law Enforcement Center, 401 Walton Way, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays as long as supplies last. Recipients must be Richmond County residents 21 or older and have a picture identification.

Emily Sollie can be reached at (706) 823-3340 or esollie@augustachronicle.com.