LOCK IT UP COLUMBIA: North Columbia community event promotes gun safety

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Many South Carolina residents own guns. but are your weapons stored safely?

Loaded and unlocked firearms have caused tragedies here in the Midlands and across the country.

“This is the second year of our BE SAFE block party series. The mission is to reach people where they are in north Columbia,” said Erica Staley, Serve and Connect Columbia site coordinator. “We bring free food, music, games, fellowship and resource providers. It’s a free-flowing environment to engage with people who want to help communities as well as law enforcement.”

The group Serve and Connect along with the City of Columbia and the Columbia Police Department brought around 150 gun locks to give out to residents for free. They hope to promote safe firearm storage in order to reduce gun violence.

“The city can’t do everything, but we can certainly do our part. It was very important for us to launch this campaign to help communities understand how to prevent gun violence, to strengthen our community and to provide access to safe storage options for firearms,” said Aditi Bussells, City of Columbia councilwoman. 

The block party also featured local organizations that provide various services to the community.

“They all have resources, whether it’s ways to get our kids involved in after-school programs or faith-based organizations, access to healthcare, food pantries or substance abuse treatment,” Bussells said. “Everything that culminates into making a safe community. We know you must have a holistic approach in order to make a real difference.”

Many in north Columbia were not previously aware of these organizations.

“Many times there’s not an awareness. People didn’t know that a resource was available,” Staley said. “This is about meeting people where they are. Instead of driving across town or looking through the internet, walk outside your doorstep, walk across the street or go to your neighborhood church and you’ll find them right here.”

The block party series continues with three more events, two in July and one in August.

To find out about future events, check out Serve and Connect’s website.


Categories: Local News, Richland