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St. Louis organization urges gun lock usage to prevent unintentional shootings with children

"In March and April of this year, there was an increase of more than 40% of unintentional shootings with children"

ST. LOUIS — In the last week, three children have been shot in the St. Louis area -- two within the last 24 hours.

The latest, a 15-year-old shot on Sullivan in north St. Louis Friday afternoon.

Thursday night, a three-year-old boy died, after being shot in the head at the 4000 block of Peck Street in north City St. Louis.

Over the weekend, 13-year-old Owen Fielder was shot in O'Fallon, Missouri and died from his injuries. Fielder was shot by a 16-year-old acquaintance.

Hoping to prevent more shootings, one organization is urging the use of gun locks.

RELATED: 13-year-old boy who died after shooting in O’Fallon, Missouri was brother to 8

Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice gives out free gun locks through its program called Lock it for Love.

Member Cathy Gilbert said, in the past year, they've distributed about 1,500 to 2,000 gun locks. 

During COVID-19, Gilbert said they've noticed a surge nationwide.

RELATED: 'We hope it saves lives' | St. Louis organization pushes for safe firearm storage while kids are home during COVID-19

"In March and April of this year, there was an increase of more than 40% of unintentional shootings with children," Gilbert said. 

These numbers are compared to the same two-month period in the past three years.

But it's not just shootings. Since the pandemic started, there's been a spike in gun sales, too.

RELATED: Gun store sales surge amid COVID-19 pandemic

"There was a surge in gun sales and often by someone who hasn’t had a gun in their home before, so they aren’t trained and may not be aware of the safety importance to keep those guns secure," she said. 

That's why they urge the use of gun locks.

With school wrapping up and summer camps canceling, gun locks may be more essential than ever.

"Kids aren’t going to have as many outlets in the summer. They are more bored, they are going to be looking for outlets," Gilbert said.

Beyond locking up the gun, Gilbert said it's key to talk to your little ones. It could save a life.

"Basic advice to give to children, if you find a gun, don’t touch it, walk away and tell an adult," Gilbert said.

The organization usually gives out the gun locks during events, but right now, those events are canceled. 

On Monday, the organization will brainstorm ways they can continue their work and get the message out. They are working to see what organizations can assist them. 

If you need a gun lock, police departments have them for free.

You can also contact Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice and say that you need a gun lock. They’ll find a way to connect with you. 

To reach out to the organization, click here.

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