ANDERSON, Calif. - Seniors at Anderson New Tech set out to make a positive change in the grim statistics of firearm related deaths and accidents.
Shasta County leads the state in firearm related deaths. According to the State Department of Public Health, people in Shasta County are more likely to die by gunfire than the average Californian. Plus, the county has the highest amount of gun owners per capita in the state.
Brandon Long and two other classmates chose to focus on educating gun owners for their senior project. They hope to collect more than 500 firearm locking devices to distribute to gun owners.
Anderson Police Officer Tyler Finch has been in law enforcement for eight years, and is in full support of the students' project. He's seen what can happen when firearms are mishandled.
"A subject that has a lot of emotion and for two young adults to take on a topic like this takes a lot of guts," said Officer Finch.
More than 40 percent of Shasta County homes with children have a firearm present. Officer Finch has seen deadly firearm accidents, often involving children that could have been prevented.
"It hurts. We don't like seeing anyone get hurt so for a lot of us it reaches us at our core," said Officer Finch.
Officer Finch and senior Brandon Long feel that an educated gun owner is a safe gun owner. That's where the Anderson New Tech Firearm Safety Initiative comes in.
"All those tragedies we've heard about could have easily been prevented by a cable lock," said Long. "It is a second amendment, you do have the right to have a firearm, so with that right comes a great responsibility."
Officer Finch knows firsthand that locking a firearm could be the difference between life and death.
The Anderson New Tech students have collection sites for the locks throughout Shasta County, and you can also drop them off at their school. They plan to distribute them at the 2014 Redding Rodeo.