LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — A string of accidental shootings in metro Detroit, many involving kids and unsecured guns, is what prompted CPL instructors Spencer Johnson, Maliq Hicks, and Chad King to launch the Safe and Secure Project.
They started offering the gun safety course, designed for both parents and kids, in 2021 after seeing a rash of accidental shootings on the news.
“The younger we educate people, they’ll have these good habits ingrained in them," Johnson told Action News.
His thought? Teach kids young and often the dangers of firearms, what to do if you see one at a friend's home or lying around unsecured, and also how to safely use a firearm when appropriate.
Johnson wanted parents involved in the classes too.
"We have some parents that just have firearms that have been passed down due to relatives passing away and they just have it lying around and really don’t know what to do with it," he said.
The class costs $5, and fills up each time.
It's made possible through a partnership with Joel Swisher, owner of Uncoiled Firearms, a gun range in Livonia.
"The people who believe in fire arms rights, we don’t like this ether. We’re looking for ways to stop this from happening," Swisher said, talking about accidental shootings in metro Detroit.
According to the Detroit Police Department, so far in 2022 there have been 22 non-fatal shootings and 4 fatal shootings with victims aged 17 or younger.
Around this time last year, those numbers were 24 and 4, respectively. And around this time in 2020, there had been 27 non-fatal shootings and 4 fatal shootings involving victims aged 17 or younger.
In total for 2021, those numbers increased to 68 non-fatal shootings and 9 fatal shootings involving minors.
For the full year of 2020, Detroit police reported 85 non-fatal and 9 fatal shootings with minor victims.
"We're hoping this saves lives," he said of the class, which barely had room to stand during it's last session because it was so crowded.
Just this April in Detroit, a 16-year-old was charged int he accidental shooting of his 2-year-old brother. The toddler, police said, found the unsecured gun sitting on a bed.
“It’s more than just you going to jail. The stakes are as high as, one of your kids being killed. Or your kids, killing someone else’s child," King said to parents during their classroom instruction.
Part of the course focuses on the legal responsibilities that come with gun ownership. King mentioned the deadly mass shooting in Oxford, Mich. November 30th which left four students dead. The accused shooter's parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Parents are given free gun locks after the course.
Children are also instructed in the classroom, and then, one-on-one with a CPL instructor, are instructed on the range if age appropriate.
If under 16 you must be accompanied by an adult to gun ranges in Michigan.
“A friend of mine is actually one of the instructors," said mother Lakisha Collins. She brought her two teenage sons to the course.
"I just feel it’s very important, especially in these times, that children are informed just as much as the adults on gun safety. When they’re informed, they’re going to inform their friends," Collins said.
The project is expanding, now also offered at Top Gun on Taylor.
Swisher hopes as many parents as possible sign up. Johnson and King want to expand the program elsewhere in the state.
"As kids, we don’t want to listen to our parents. We’ll listen to a stranger. But as long as the message gets out I don’t really care how they receive it, as long as they receive the message, that’s what we want," Johnson said.
The next Safe and Secure Project session is scheduled for August. Click hereto sign up.