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Man recognized as 'Local Champion' for firearm safety efforts | Environment

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Man recognized as 'Local Champion' for firearm safety efforts
Man recognized as 'Local Champion' for firearm safety efforts

NEWTOWN, Connecticut and LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (NSSF) – The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has recognized Joe Huggins of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in Little Rock, AR as a “Local Champion” for his efforts to promote firearm safety in the state. The recognition comes as NSSF continues its “S.A.F.E. Summer Across America” campaign as part of its ongoing Project ChildSafe program to emphasize the importance of responsible firearm storage – particularly while children are home from school and more likely to be unattended.

“As the hunter education coordinator, it is my job to ensure we promote safety year-round,” Huggins said. “Firearms and other outdoor equipment are used year-round, which makes practicing safe storage important no matter what season it is.”

Huggins was selected for his work across the state to raise awareness on gun safety, during the hunting season and in the off-season. During spring break 2014, he arranged for all four of Arkansas’ state nature centers to provide free Project ChildSafe gun locks and firearm safety kits. This effort encouraged people to visit the nature centers, but enabled the centers to discuss gun safety in the home with whole families and provide thousands of free gun locks and safety materials to visitors. 

“Project ChildSafe provides us with an opportunity to actually put a gun lock, which is one option for practicing safe storage, into the hands of people,” Huggins says. “With the budget cuts that we face, the locks are something we are able to give to residents that we wouldn’t be able to provide otherwise. We have a lot of people who hunt, fish, target shoot, and own firearms and we want to promote safe handling of those.”

S.A.F.E. Summer Across America is an extension of NSSF’s S.A.F.E. Summer campaign, first launched in 2013. Consistent with Project ChildSafe’s overarching message of “Own it? Respect It. Secure it.”  S.A.F.E. Summer Across America is a reminder that proper firearm storage is the #1 way to prevent firearm accidents, theft and misuse. 

"S.A.F.E." serves as an acronym for Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Be Aware of those around you who should not have unauthorized access to guns; Focus on your responsibility as a firearm owner and Educate yourself and others about safe firearm handling and storage. The effort is focused on providing education and tools that helps gun owners take responsible action to keep their families and communities safer.

Arkansas native Kayle Browning is a national trap shooting champion with USA Shooting who has worked with NSSF and Project ChildSafe to promote firearm safety. She was very pleased to see her home state recognized this way. 

“I’m so proud that Arkansas has committed to talking about this important subject,” Browning says. “Shooting sports are part of our national heritage as a nation, and when practiced responsibly, they can be both safe and enjoyable for anyone. Teaching our children firearm safety and properly securing of firearms must go hand in hand. Doing so through efforts like Project ChildSafe helps save lives.”

NSSF launched Project ChildSafe in 1999 (prior to 2003 the program was called Project HomeSafe) as a nationwide initiative to promote firearms responsibility and provide safety education to all gun owners. While children are a focus, Project ChildSafe is intended to help young people and adults practice greater firearm safety in the home. Through partnerships with more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies, the program has provided more than 36 million free firearm safety kits to gun owners in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. That's in addition to the more than 70 million free locking devices manufacturers have included with new firearms sold since 1998 and continue to do today.

Project ChildSafe was originally supported by federal grants provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. Since 2008, when this funding was cut, the firearms manufacturing industry has solely funded the Project ChildSafe program through the members of NSSF.

(Source: National Shooting Sports Foundation)