Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence is launching a trigger lock giveaway, revisiting a program that was well-received more than a decade ago when thousands of the safety devices were handed out for free.

The group, which advocates for legislation and education to prevent handgun violence, held a news conference Thursday at the Portland Police Department to announce the program. Maine Citizens covers the $10,000 cost.

“Most gun owners already responsibly store their guns, particularly in Maine where gun owners enjoy a well-earned reputation for safe and responsible firearm practices,” Frances Buerkens, the group’s executive director, said in a release announcing the program. “But we want to be sure that no gun is left unlocked because a family cannot afford a trigger lock.”

Buerkens said the group would be providing 5,000 free trigger locks, to be distributed through police departments across the state. A list of participating departments can be found at The locks also can be obtained through the group’s website at

“It’s a very popular program, obviously, with the citizens that receive the trigger guards,” said Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck. “But I also know talking to chiefs around the state they are excited to reinvigorate this popular program.

“No matter where you are on the firearms continuum, the debate around firearms, I think it’s easy for all parties to stand together on an issue like trigger locks. It is simply about safety for families and communities.”

When a similar program was launched in 2001, many of the 2,600 locks that were made available were scarfed up by gun owners in the first week, prompting the group to order another 3,000 almost immediately, and more later to cover demand.

Trigger locks protect children by preventing a gun from being fired accidentally, the group said. But Sauschuck noted that most firearms accidents the department has responded to recently have involved adults.

“A dangerous weapon is a dangerous weapon,” he said. “We think it helps all members of the family.”

The group also announced a new public service message that encourages gun owners to use trigger locks.

The trigger lock giveaway is supported by the Maine Chiefs of Police, Maine Medical Association, Family Crisis Services, Maine Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Surgeons, Remembering Darien Foundation, South Portland Police Department, Portland Police Department, and DAC Technologies, the group said.

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