For the past few weeks, Put Down the Guns Now Young People, a group focused on gun safety, has been out and about in Greenville communities, supplying gun locks along with face masks and hand sanitizer while raising awareness about gun safety.
The group’s leader, Jack Logan, is now combining the group’s normal advocacy work with an updated approach of providing items necessary to keep safe in the pandemic.
Put Down the Guns Now Young People began in 2009 after the death of a Spartanburg Methodist College student from gun violence. Logan said he felt called to start educating teens about gun violence after being approached by a friend about the topic.
“I went to some friends of mine, asked them to help me,” he recalled. At first they weren’t so supportive and were concerned for their safety, Logan said. He went to the late Greenville County Councilwoman Lottie Gibson, who agreed to help. Eventually, they were able to get a group of community members together.
“We began to canvass the streets in the city of Greenville, putting up flyers, educating children and teens to stay in school, the basics: listen to an adult, don’t touch guns and things like that,” Logan said.
After hearing then-Greenville Police Chief Terri Wilfong campaign for gun locks at a press conference in 2010, the group began handing them out as well.
Put Down the Guns Now Young People has been across the state, holding rallies and exercises to teach children about gun safety and urge them to stay in school — “because education is key,” Logan said.
89% of unintentional shooting deaths in children happen at the home. Most of these deaths happen when the child is playing with a loaded gun without a parent present. – Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Often, he said, young people are receptive to the group’s message of staying away from guns. “The teenagers are now very educated, and they do get the message,” Logan said.
The organization, which partners with Project ChildSafe to distribute gun locks, has given away more than 15,000 gun locks.
That’s regardless of criminal background. The motivation is that whoever has a gun needs to have the gun stored safely, according to Logan.
“Gun violence can happen anywhere. Accidental shootings can happen anywhere,” Logan said.
In recent weeks, the group has handed out hundreds of face masks while canvassing neighborhoods about gun safety. With the new school year approaching, Logan plans to hit the streets hard around the city.
“If [families] have a gun at home, they need to contact us and get a gun lock,” Logan said.
“I want them to still understand that they can call us, contact us for a gun lock. They can call us to come and speak to the children,” he said. “We will go to the rich side, to the poor side… we see no race. No, we’re about preventing accidental shootings and gun violence.”
For more information, call 864-303-1030 or visit www.facebook.com/PutDownTheGunsNowYoungPeople.