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For well over a decade, gun owner groups have promoted the use of trigger locks to protect children from weapons around the home. One long-standing effort is Project Child Safe, run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the voice of gun makers, shooting ranges, and retailers.
Conservative radio host and commentator Dana Loesch went to Twitter to berate President Barack Obama for neglecting this approach.
"Obama admin gutted @ProjChildSafe budget to provide trigger locks and safety kits," Loesch tweeted Sept. 4, 2014.
We wanted to see whether the current administration drove down spending for this particular trigger lock program.
We emailed Loesch’s show for evidence to back up the statement, but we did not hear back.
The senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Lawrence Keane, explained that Project Child Safe is a nonprofit run by his group and is largely sustained by the foundation and private donations. But during the administration of President George W. Bush, it received a great deal of government support.
"There was grant funding from the Department of Justice," Keane said. "There were a number of different grants. They varied in size. Over time, they totaled $90 million over 8 years."
The foundation used the money to buy trigger locks and safety manuals. It partnered with over 15,000 state and local law enforcement agencies across all 50 states to distribute these safety kits for free to gun owners. Keane said since 2001, the program has provided over 36 million kits, with no government money going toward salaries or overhead.
There’s no question the federal money is a fraction of what it was. Whether that happened on Obama’s watch is another matter.
A more complicated picture
We went to USA Spending, a government website that gives anyone the chance to see how federal agencies spend the taxpayers’ money. 2002 was the high-water mark for federal grants to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That year, the Justice Department awarded it nearly $50 million to cover the costs of trigger locks and other safety materials.
2003 was also a strong year. Washington provided another $25 million. But as this chart shows, after that, the flow of government dollars to the foundation plummeted.
In 2006, the Department of Justice gave the foundation $917,850. By 2008, the amount fell to $500,000. These declines took place under the Bush administration, three years before Obama took office.
The chart also shows a shift in the federal agency that supported the distribution of safety kits. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs began granting the National Shooting Sports Foundation to provide the kits to veterans.
"The VA approached the National Shooting Sports Foundation because of concerns they had, and have, with returning vets having post-traumatic stress disorder," Keane said.
Under the Obama administration, the VA provided the foundation about $3 million through 2012 to deliver about 1.5 million Project Child Safe safety kits, according to Keane. On an annual basis, that is slightly more than the amount spent in the last year of the Bush administration. Keane said the work with the VA is ongoing with an estimated additional $2 million in the pipeline.
According to the Justice Department, the foundation had provided 32 million kits by 2005. In the seven years since, about 4 million kits have been delivered.
Loesch said that the Obama administration gutted the budget for Project Child Safe. In reality, the deepest cuts took place during the Bush years. Obama inherited a program funded at $500,000. In 2009, the funding agency changed from the Justice Department to Veterans Affairs. While the funding for Project Child Safe itself ended, the same kind of kits were distributed to peoples’ homes, although through different channels. Funding increased very slightly from the last year of the Bush administration. The work between the foundation and Veterans Affairs continues.
We rate the claim False.
Dana Loesch, tweet, Sept, 4, 2014
U.S. Department of Justice, Solutions for safer communities: FY 2005 annual report to Congress, February, 2007
Project Child safe, Supporter organizations
Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC, National Shooting Sports Foundation Announce Recall to Replace Project HomeSafe (Now Project ChildSafe) Gun Locks, Feb. 7, 2001
American Public Health Association, Injury prevention for children and adolescents: Research, practice, and advocacy, 2012
Interview, Lawrence Keane, senior vice president/general counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Sept. 5, 2014
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