VELPEN – Nearly every day, there is a tragic incident in America involving a child shooter. So far this year, there have been at least 259 unintentional shootings by children nationwide, resulting in 104 deaths and 168 injuries. At this pace, the U.S. is set to surpass the record reached in 2017 when 383 cases of accidental shootings by kids occurred and 156 people were killed.
Experts say COVID-19 lockdowns, lack of gun safes, and failure to use trigger locks have contributed to a tragic uptick of accidental shootings involving youth in recent months.
Here in Indiana, sportsmen and sportswomen are joining ranks with public safety leaders to raise funds for firearms safety programs through the new Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch for future law enforcement officers, at-risk kids, young witnesses, and victims of crime.
“National Rifle Association age-appropriate curriculum will be funded through the 4th Annual Sheriffs’ Shotgun Shoot for Firearms Safety at Cool Springs Education Center on Sept. 23,” said former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, ISYR founder, and board president.
NRA’s Eddie Eagle videos, posters, activity books, and take-home materials for parents and grandparents will be the first phase of a planned ongoing, statewide public-awareness campaign by ISYR as funds are raised, Layton said.
“Firearms safety is just one topic offered at our 62-acre youth training retreat,” Layton said. “Others include personal safety, bullying, cybercrimes, first aid, and substance abuse. Of course, sensitive subjects like these can be more easily discussed in the comfort of our wooded, rolling, waterfront property where the students can also safely enjoy fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, archery, drones, and ATVs.”
Layton serves as a volunteer Youth Ranch board member along with Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers, Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, Cass County Sheriff Ed Schroder, Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden, Grant County Sheriff Reggie Nevels, La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd, Putnam County Sheriff Scott Stockton, Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth and Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse.
Southern Indiana auto dealer John Jones of John Jones Auto and United Auto Workers Local 933 President Gary Holmes also serve as ISYR board members.
According to Layton, each team at the Sheriffs’ Shotgun Shoot will receive a safety briefing and be offered free trigger locks.
Layton said for more information on the not-for-profit or event, to sponsor a $750 team or $250 shooting station, email ISYR’s executive director at ScottMinier@yahoo.com, phone 317-460-4242, or mail tax-deductible donations to Firearms Safety Awareness, c/o ISYR, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834.