By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Police Department, in partnership with local faith-based organizations and Project Child Safe, will hand out 1,200 gun locks free of charge. Mayor Michael Hancock announced the initiative on Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Denver.

(credit: CBS)

Police Chief Pail Pazen told CBS4 gun theft across the city and county of Denver is on the decline in recent years. However, nearly 2,000 guns have still been reported stolen in the last three years. Pazen hoped the free gun locks would help drop that number in the years to come.

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“It is a great way to keep illegal guns out of the hands of young people,” Pazen said. “(Gun theft) is something that is 100% preventable.”

Paul Pazen (credit: CBS)

Members of Denver’s Safe Haven initiative along with the Christian Riders will help distribute the gun locks.

“We tend to be up and down the Colfax area, where there has been a number of homicides,” Pastor David Buckner of the Christian Riders told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

“This is faith based, nonprofits, local state and federal partners doing something about youth violence,” Pazen said.

(credit: CBS)

Ernie Romero, a Denver resident, heard about the initiative’s launch and decided to attend Hancock’s event Saturday morning. Romero said he believed the free gun locks were a common sense way to make guns safe without pushing legislation that focuses on taking away firearms from legal gun owners.

Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

“I thought it was a great idea. It is so simple; it is not legislative. It is not infringing,” Romero said. “We’re not fighting over rights, and legislation, and protests. It is a physical lock, which is so simple.”

“There’s a lot of different approaches that are going to help relieve the stress within the community,” Buckner said.

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(credit: CBS)

The following gun lock handouts will be on Sun., Feb. 2:

New Hope Ministries of Central Denver, 90 Knox Ct.
Time: beginning at 10 a.m.

New Beginnings Ministries, 5200 Tejon St.
Time: beginning at 10:30 a.m.

His Love Fellowship, 910 Kalamath St.
Time: After 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services

Anchor of Hope, 2101 N. High St.
Time: beginning at 11 a.m.

House of Purpose, 8720 E. Colfax Ave.
Time: beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Church in the City, 1580 N. Gaylord St.
Time: beginning at 10 a.m.

Christian Riders In Faith, 3423 West Colfax
Time: beginning at 2 p.m.

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“We’re asking responsible gun owners to be just that. Be responsible, and secure your weapons,” Pazen said.

Dillon Thomas