CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Gun violence is top of mind for many people here at home and across the country. In a statement on Tuesday, Chesterfield Police reminded the public about the importance of in-home gun safety.

Cpl. Craig Eckrich with the Chesterfield County Police Department shared some advice on how to keep you and your family safe from guns inside the home.

“It’s actually a crime in Virginia to leave a loaded gun out with access to children under 14 years old,” Eckrich said.

As gun violence has spiked over the last few years, so has the concern for safety, especially inside the home. According to the Gun Violence Archives, 85% of child victims of gun homicide die in their homes, and over 80% of child gun suicides involve a gun owned by a family member.

Eckrich says there are four tips for gun owners that can save lives:

  1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
  3. Know your target and what’s beyond it, around it or in the general area.
  4. Never point your gun at anything you aren’t willing to destroy.

Gun ownership, according to Eckrich, is all about education — knowing how to properly secure your gun in the home is half of the solution. He showed 8News how easy it is to avoid a disaster.

“Over here I have a cable lock which is one way you can secure your firearm. We have these here at our Hicks [Road] location. It simply unlocks and feeds through the action of the pistol,” Eckrich said.

There were 21 reported accidental shootings in Richmond in 2022. Of those, eight were reported to have occurred inside a home. One accidental shooting inside a home involved a juvenile victim according to data from the Richmond Police Department.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that … they can hide a gun where only they will see it — where a child will never find it. That’s simply not true,” Eckrich said. “Kids find Christmas presents, they find all sorts of other stuff they aren’t supposed to. They will find a gun.”

The Community Engagement Unit with Chesterfield Police says that they have gun locks to give away to anyone who needs them free of charge at their Clover Hill Police Support Facility at 2730 Hicks Road.

The Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office also offers gun safety courses.