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The University of New Mexico Childrens’ Hospital on Thursday, Feb. 29.

UNM Children’s Hospital gives away free gun locks to community

While supplies last, The University of New Mexico Children's Hospital is giving away free gun locks – devices that prevent firearms from discharging – upon request in response to the recent rise in gun-related injuries to children.

The program is in collaboration with the New Mexico Department of Health, which provided UNM Children's Hospital with 3,000 gun locks. Additional shipments from the NMDOH to UNMCH locations across the state are available for free upon request, according to

“(UNMCH) received 3,000 gun locks, and they are available at any UNM pediatric primary care clinic. They can also be requested from the UNM Pediatric Emergency Department and Pediatric Urgent Care Clinic,” Anna Duran, Associate Chief Medical Officer at UNM Children’s Hospital, said.

The gun locks are a step towards preventing accidental firings of guns if they land in the hands of children, according to a UNM Health Sciences Newsroom article.

The decision comes after the NMDOH launched with the nonpartisan organization, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, in 2023 to increase safer gun storage, lower injury rates and lower death rates due to loaded weapons in the state. The hope is that by equipping New Mexicans with safe gun protocols and knowledge, it will save the lives of children and adults in the state from preventable injuries and deaths, according to

New Mexico ranked third in the United States for firearm mortality in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The NMDOH published statistics that revealed an increasing rate of hospitalization for gun-related injuries among people under the age of 18, with the majority of those patients being between the ages of 14 and 17 from 2022-2023.

Gun violence has been a recent focus of the New Mexico legislature, following the gun death of an 11-year-old after an Isotopes game in September. The shooting led Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to institute a temporary ban on carrying firearms in public, which was later struck down in court and limited only to parks and playgrounds, according to AP.

In December 2023, an Atrisco Heritage High School student died from a gunshot wound after he and another student were handling guns in the school parking lot.

“Pediatric death by firearms is the number one cause of death for (people) ages 0-24. All too often, we hear about the tragic, usually preventable, injuries to children related to firearms,” Duran said.

In a statement, Miranda Viscoli – co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence – said the organization is fully in support of the gun lock program and can offer gun safety cards in both Spanish and English.

“We will continue to hand out gun locks to any parent who requests one, for as long as our supplies last,” Duran said. “We hope through this initiative we can help decrease the number of pediatric injuries and deaths associated with firearms.”

Maria Fernandez is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at

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