Community NewsPress Release

City of Alexandria Expands Gun and Pill Box Lock Distribution, Furthering Suicide Prevention Efforts

Council Member Sarah Bagley and Clerk of Court Greg Parks display the gun locks available to residents and the instruction booklets available in English, Spanish, Amharic, and Arabic. (Photo courtesy Greg Parks)

CORRECTION: The original version of this city press release mistakenly stated that the Alexandria Circuit Court is involved in distribution efforts. Rather, it is the Clerk of Circuit Court. The spelling of Sarah Bagley’s name has also been corrected.

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The City of Alexandria Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is collaborating with the Office of the Clerk of Circuit Court, and the Alexandria Police Department to make free gun locks and medication locking devices more broadly available through two new distribution methods in a state-wide suicide prevention campaign that began in 2019.

Studies show that when firearms are accessible, individuals are three times more likely to die by suicide, and most people who die by suicide use firearms, poisons or medications. Suicide and accidents can be prevented by limiting access to lethal means and talking with those who may want to end their lives. The best strategy for protecting a person at risk is to remove lethal means from the home until a mental health crisis is resolved.

The Office of the Clerk of Court implemented distribution of gun locks with instruction cards to all individuals who apply for a new or renewed Concealed Carry Permit for a firearm.  In 2019, 666 permits were issued, the next year, 1,075, and last year, 797.

The Clerk’s office will also offer the locks to individuals who applied for permits over the past few years. Posters advertising availability of the locks are displayed, and anyone may request locks at the public service counter.

Clerk Greg Parks learned about the gun locks from Council Member Sarah Bagley, who was briefed on the program and connected him with the appropriate officials.

“I was very glad I could connect the city’s program with the Clerk of Court, and that everyone involved acted swiftly and collaboratively to make the locks more widely available,” she said “It will improve safety for all households with firearms.”

Parks credited Bagley with making the distribution program possible.

“I was pleased to partner with the city on this important effort,” he said “The locks are a significant tool to help prevent people in crisis and children from accidentally using firearms to harm themselves or others in their homes.”

Alexandria Police Department officers and detectives will carry locking medication boxes in their vehicles. This will allow the police to provide the boxes when they are out in the community.

Obtain firearm cable and trigger locks and medication lock boxes at the following locations and times, except holidays:

Court Office of the Clerk, 520 King Street, Room 307, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Gun locks only. 703.746.4044

Alexandria Health Department and DCHS, 4480 King Street, First and Fifth Floors, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 703.746.3382

DCHS, 2525 Mt. Vernon Avenue, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Call to verify hours due to pandemic-related operational changes. 703.746.5700

The locking devices are an initiative of Lock and Talk Virginia, a suicide prevention program that aims to limit access to lethal means and raise awareness about suicide prevention, locally coordinated by the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern (SPAN) Virginia. Between October 2020 and September 2021, 500 med boxes and 100 gun locks were given away. Earlier in the pandemic, ALIVE! assisted with distribution of these items at food pick-up sites across the city.

Anyone at risk of suicide, or who knows someone at risk, should get help right away. Treatment works and people recover. Call PRS CrisisLink at 703.527.4077, text “CONNECT” to 85511 or call Alexandria Emergency Services at 703.746.3401. For life-threatening situations, call 911.

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