Gun locks save lives. Get yours for free at the Minnesota State Fair

Aug. 25, 2022

DPS Commissioner John Harrington holds up a gun lock during a news conference.

Every parent knows toddlers cannot be trusted. If they see something, they will play with it. It is a huge mess when it is Mommy's make-up or Daddy's shaving cream. It can be fatal when it's a firearm.

Four Minnesota children unintentionally shot someone last year. One of them was only 5 years old.

That is just one of several reasons why the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and other state agencies will be giving away free gun locks at their booths at the Minnesota State Fair starting Thursday, Aug. 25. Our goal: Get a gun lock into the hands of every Minnesota gun owner who doesn't already have one and there's no better place to start than the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

“Make Minnesota Safe & Secure" is an initiative spearheaded by Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan to ensure every gun owner in Minnesota has a gun lock to help store firearms in a safe and secure manner — keeping them out of curious little hands, would-be thieves and people suffering mental health crises.

“As a veteran and lifelong hunter, I am committed to safe and responsible gun ownership," said Walz. “By making gun locks free and accessible at the Minnesota State Fair, we are helping more gun owners keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe."

Gun violence is not just a Twin Cities problem, according to DPS Commissioner John Harrington.

“Last year, our state experienced an alarming increase in aggravated assaults and murders — most committed with a firearm," said Harrington. “We also saw more than 1,700 guns stolen, and the thefts and shootings aren't just occurring in large cities. They're happening across the state."

A gun lock on a tabletop

​With the lock in place, the chamber can't rotate, the firing pin cannot fall on a live round in a revolver and the firing rod cannot fire in a semi-automatic handgun. It effectively disables the gun so that it cannot be fired, whether it was loaded or unloaded. DPS recommends always storing the ammunition and the firearm separately. This video demonstrates how to use a gun lock.

If the firearm is needed, it's as simple as turning the key to remove the lock.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm speaking during a news conference. Farji Shaheer is standing in the background.

Farji Shaheer has seen first-hand the increase in gun violence as the co-founder of the Next Step Program at Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial hospitals. Gun locks are essential to storing firearms safely, especially when children can easily access them without the locks. Give-aways like this one make a huge difference in his experience.

“There is an extreme value on life. If just one gun lock out of the 10,000 that are given away prevents an individual from losing their life, then this mission is accomplished," said Shaheer.

Not only do unsecured firearms harm public safety, but they are also a public health issue, according to Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

“It is a leading cause of premature death in the form of homicides and suicides, and these deaths take a tremendous toll on the families left behind," Malcolm said.

There were 513 firearm-related deaths in Minnesota in 2020. Of those, 354 were caused by suicide and 138 were homicides.

Harrington hopes the campaign will prompt conversations in homes about how to safely store and handle firearms.

For more information about the Make Minnesota Safe and Secure program, and to find out how to get a free gun lock if you're unable to attend the Minnesota State Fair, visit