NORFOLK, Va. — The Norfolk Police Department held it's fourth "Guns Down" community gathering of the summer.
The movement was spurred by Norfolk Police Chief Larry D. Boone as the city noticed a trend of young people getting shot and young people pulling the trigger.
"We're losing kids out here, not just in Norfolk, but throughout Hampton Roads. We've got kids getting shot, five, seven. Richmond had one get killed the other night, three-years-old," said Chief Boone.
During the event, the community gathered with police to discuss gun violence, calling it a public health issue.
"There are way too many guns out here and it's way too easy to get your hands on them, folks. This is a public health issue," the Chief said, repeating that last statement two more times.
Norfolk Police Firearm instructors provided demonstrations on properly securing guns. Project Child Safe provided gun locks to community embers.
Chief Boone believes the gun locks will encourage conversations about gun safety.
The Norfolk Police Department's partnership with Project Child Safe is part of an on-going collaborative effort to raise resident's awareness about gun safety issues and making safety a habit.
“We are losing generations to gun violence. Surely, we can take a few minutes to safely learn how to secure guns with gun locks, to keep our children and streets safe," said Boone. "We put emphasis on securing our homes, cars, bikes and valuable possessions, let’s put an emphasis on securing our firearms.”
The chief said the community can't wait on legislation.
"We can't wait on legislation. We've got to do this ourselves," the Chief said. "This is what this is about, us as a community. We do this together. No single individual gets the credit, this is a family."
As those who attended the event stood in a circle, Chief Boone urged the group to tell those around them that they loved each other.
"I'm not afraid to show who I am. I'm a manly man, but I'm an emotional man too," Chief Boone explained. "If I can express love, so can you because that's how you start to change the diagram of where we've been. That's how you move the meter, love."
PHOTOS: Norfolk Police hold fourth 'Guns Down' event
Local music artist End Timez debuted the official "Guns Down" Movement anthem, "Put the Guns Down" at the event. The song will be released on the Norfolk Police Department's Facebook page soon.
"If we love one another, we wouldn't be pulling these triggers," Chief Boone said to the crowd.
Residents who file a report for lost or stolen guns can pick up free Project Child Safe gun locks to properly secure any additional guns they may have or for future gun purchases. The locks can be picked up from the Norfolk Police Operations Center at 3661 Virginia Beach Boulevard between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Responsible gun owners who apply for a concealed weapons permit will also receive a free gun safety lock and other safety information.
The "Guns Down" movement is the first of its kind in the city. The goal of the movement is to increase the community's awareness about gun violence through engagement and outreach in a fun-filled, family environment with music, fun and opportunities for education, employment and hope.