Got a gun—get a lock.

That was the prevailing message given by Sheriff Jewell Williams today at a press conference at Temple University Hospital to announce the coming together of several entities pushing for the use of gun locks, and stressing how even a few seconds between pulling the trigger and thinking about it can possibly save a life.

The press conference was held at the Ontario East Lobby of Temple University Hospital, literally just yards from the emergency ward and trauma center where so many of the victims of gun violence are treated in Philadelphia.

“We transport more than 500 people per day back and forth between the courts and the prisons,” said Sheriff Williams, “and many are charged with crimes involving guns.  Before anger gets to a point of reaching for a gun, if that gun is in a lock, it provides at least a few seconds an individual may change their mind about firing that weapon, and makes it almost impossible to fire if found, and handled by a child. Got a gun—get a lock”.

Sheriff Williams stood with City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, City Council Public Safety Chair Curtis Jones, Jr., District Attorney Seth Williams, Scott Charles of the Cradle to Grave Program, Temple University’s Dr. Amy Goldberg, Shira Goodman of CeaseFire PA, Dorothy Johnson Speight of Mothers in Charge, and Bilal Quayyum of the Father’s Day Rally Committee in calling for more awareness of gun safety.

“This hospital (Temple University),” is ground zero for trauma patients,” said City Council President Clarke.  “It is the place where so many people come after being shot”.

  A bill was recently enacted by City Council entitled the “Responsibility to Avoid Possession and Discharge of Firearms by Children” act (introduced by Council President Clarke) that requires all firearms in homes with children under the age of 18 to be kept unloaded and stored in a locked container, with the ammunition in a separate locked container. The exception would be when the firearm or ammunition is in the "immediate control" of a person with a license to carry a gun.

Meanwhile, free gun locks will be passed today by the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia City & County as part of its National Night Out kickoff initiative, at Fair Hill Square Park, 4th Street and Lehigh Avenue from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at the Rose Playground, 75th and Lansdowne Avenue from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Free gun locks will also be passed out on August 2nd at:

  • 32nd and Cumberland Streets from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
  • 53rd and Parkside Avenue from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • 2300 N. 17th Street from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. 

"Got a gun, get a lock."

That's the motto of a new initiative by Philadelphia City Council, law enforcement agencies and those working to reduce deadly violence to encourage gun owners to lock their weapons.

The Philadelphia sheriff's office expects to give out more than 500 free gun locks Monday during National Night Out events and plans to distribute thousands more in the weeks to come.

During a news conference announcing the effort Monday morning, Council President Darrell Clarke said anyone can get one — no questions asked.

"We are not going to ask you to show ID or registration for your weapon because, frankly speaking, if someone wants to lock an illegal gun, I'm OK with that," he said. The city has spent about $2,000 purchasing gun locks so far, according to Clarke's spokeswoman Jane Roh.

Clarke and other advocates said the effort would help prevent children from accidentally shooting themselves or others — in June, a 4-year-old from North Philadelphia died after shooting herself in the head. Monday morning, Philadelphia police said a 5-year-old in Germantown shot himself in the hand and was reported in stable condition.

"It just takes a few seconds to unlock that gun," said Shira Goodman with Ceasefire PA. "But for the person who is contemplating suicide or is angry or is depressed at that moment, the couple seconds it takes to unlock that gun could mean the difference between their life and death or somebody else's."

Gun owners who would like a free lock can get one by calling the city's Safe Storage Hotline, 215-686-3572, even if the weapon was purchased illegally or is not registered.

Free gun locks will also be distributed during National Night Out events at the following locations:

Fair Hill Square Park
4th and Lehigh Street
5 to 8 p.m.

Rose Playground
North 75th Street and Lansdowne Avenue
6 to 8:30 p.m.

32nd and Cumberland streets
5 to 8:45 p.m.

Written by Katie Colaneri for Newsworks.

If you own a gun, Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams wants you to put a lock on it. The sheriff said if guns are locked up, a child, or a person who is angry or suicidal, is less likely to harm themselves or someone else.


To promote gun safety—and recognize National Night Out, held each year on the first Tuesday evening in August — Williams announced plans by he and City Council members to distribute approximately 500 free gun locks during three National Night Out events around the city last night and tonight, Aug. 2. The location for tonight’s give-away is 32nd and Cumberland streets, 5 p.m. — 8:45 p.m., in cooperation with the Strawberry Mansion Faith-Based Coalition.

“A gun lock is a tool that can be used to keep the public safe, including children and inexperienced gun owners, regardless of whether the weapon is registered or not,” Williams said. “The message is all about gun safety for everyone, and saving lives.”

Williams spoke during an announcement of a Safe Storage initiative Monday morning at Temple University Hospital. Several entities came together, including Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke, City Council Public Safety Chair and Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Temple’s Health System and its Cradle to Grave Program, Mothers in Charge, CeaseFirePA, the Father’s Day Rally Committee and the Sheller Family Foundation. Clarke introduced a law earlier this year that requires firearms and ammunition to be locked away, out of reach from minors.

“There are few things more outrageous than the death of a child by her own hands or the hands of a playmate or sibling, simply because adults did not act responsibly and keep guns locked far out of reach,” Clarke said. “Children who die in these entirely preventable tragedies are not the only victims. The children who pulled the trigger and the adults who failed to keep them safe must live with an indescribable shame for the rest of their lives.”

The aim of Safe Storage is to give away free gun locks for gun owners — who have guns legally or illegally — and for them to lock up their guns, especially if they have young children in the home. The event promotes neighborhood engagement, public safety and police and community partnerships.

“Locks work,” said CeaseFirePa Executive Director Shira Goodman, whose organization works with people and communities to stand against gun violence. “Obviously a lock doesn’t work if you don’t lock it up.”

Almost three decades ago, Temple University Hospital’s Dr. Amy Goldberg was a young surgical resident when a 4-year-old boy arrived with gunshot wounds to his upper body and was in cardiac arrest.

“We opened his chest and did our best to reverse the devastation caused by the bullets,” said Goldberg, surgeon-in-chief at Temple University’s Health System. “Well, we were unable to save him. He was shot by his older brother with a gun that was left unattended and unsecured in their home. So many tragedies occurred that day and continue to occur in our neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.”

And again just last week, Goldberg said a 10-year-old girl was shot in North Philadelphia and brought into the hospital.

“Hard to call her lucky after being shot, but she sustained a wound to her arm only and will live,” Goldberg said. “Unfortunately, we here at Temple, as well as the other trauma centers across the city, know far too well the damage that gun violence produces.”

Goldberg continued, “Our patients are killed, left paralyzed from the neck or waist down, unable to walk, breathe on their own or care for themselves. They are left with colostomy wounds that need to be cared for and they are forever changed both physically and mentally, but wounds from guns, guns left unattended, these deaths and injuries can be prevented and must be prevented.”

Councilman Jones, who represents the 4th District, told the audience that he knew of at least 12 or more people who have been shot or killed by guns.

“This gun lock program is essential,” Jones said. “Gun locks add an additional step, an additional thought, an additional action that may prevent someone from doing something that they may regret for the rest of their life.”

Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder and national executive director of the nonprofit Mothers In Charge, said she knows gun locks isn’t a panacea for gun violence, but acknowledged that it’s a step in the right direction.

“So many lives are being lost today and especially of young children, when they get their hands on guns and there is no lock on them,” said Johnson-Speight, whose son was murdered in 2001. “We want to be out of business; we don’t want mothers to keep coming to our organization because they have to bury their sons and daughters to violence.”

According to the website for the National Association of Town Watch, called National Night Out.

Written by Ryanne Persinger for the Philadelphia Tribune.

National Night Out is one of my favorite community events.

 This year it has taken on a deeper meaning as neighborhoods across the country join local law enforcement and politicians in conveying a message of unity to promote safety and awareness as major crime fighters.

Considering the recent tumultuous events in Texas, Minnesota and Louisiana, one can easily become cynical and place little faith in the notion that communities and law enforcement officers charged with protecting them, are so far apart they will never come together.

In Philadelphia, however, National Night Out is both serious and festive as sheriff officers, and local and state police alike all participate in an evening of information sharing, shaking hands, music, food and genuinely enjoying the moment.

I expect to see the same on August 2nd as I and several of my officers go from one community event to another on narrow streets, parks, and recreation centers to celebrate and recognize that we are all in this together.

Dwight Eisenhower once said that: “This world of ours... must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”

As we all pause, and rightly so, to reflect on what is currently happening in our nation, let’s also not forget the struggles and challenges we’ve overcome as a people to get to this point.

No, I don’t expect a tsunami of warmth and forgiveness to flow over the country on August 2nd, but I do anticipate the purpose, dedication, and focus hat comes with National Night Out to be a buttress for the hope and optimism that is the essence of the event.

So, please join me in volunteering some of your time on August 2nd to sit with your neighbors, mingle with local law enforcement, and have conversations that bring us all forward with understanding and patience.

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the John F. Hartranft Elementary School to sponsor a Read-A-Thon with Kindergarten to 3rdgraders as part of the Right Books Campaign for the Philadelphia School System.

I was joined by several Deputy Sheriffs and non-uniformed employees who believe as I do that reading is one of the most important literacy tools in our arsenal. Protecting our children and educating them are two of their basic and deserved rights.

Reading not only allows our young people to compete in the classroom and years beyond but can help them explore worlds unknown. Through books they can discover fantasy, experience travel, and insights about the people that have made history in the worlds of science, space exploration, sports and music.

The three R’s was the mantra when I was growing up. I remember we had lots of books to select from. Today too many of our classrooms and schools have no libraries or books which is what brought us to Hartranft School.

We want to see a library in each K thru 3 grade classroom in Philly schools with properly trained comprehensive literacy trained teachers to make sure our kids get that boost when they need it most. And I encourage every parent, grandparent, older sister or brother, caretaker or special person to pick up a book and sit and share the magic of words with your loved little ones.

Wishing you a safe Memorial Day Holiday and let it be the beginning of a Summer of Peace,

The Office of the Philadelphia Sheriff is proud to launch a redesign of our very popular website. The site hosts on average about 800 visitors every day, with a total of 370,000 unique users since the site was launched in 2013. Users are able to get detailed information about properties sold at Sheriff Sale, sign up for seminars to learn how the Sheriff Sale process works, determine if a deed has been filed on a property, and calculate the legal fees necessary to have a Deputy Sheriff serve a court order. We have even provided a video about how to purchase a property at a Sheriff Sale that has been viewed by almost 17,000 people in the past 18 months.

Responsive Design

Today we are proud to re-launch our website designed in a way to make it even easier for citizens to get the information they are seeking. The site has been redesigned with a responsive format to provide a seamless experience across all devices, making it easier and more fun to explore on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

Comprehensive Search

We have also added a comprehensive search engine to the site to more easily find content throughout the site. The site is offered in English and Spanish (the two most used languages by our users according to online analytics).

New Web App Features

We are excited to add new features to our most popular section of the site: The Sheriff Sale App, which allows users to easily search for information about properties being sold as Sheriff Sale. The new features will allow a user to:

  • Search for properties by zip code or ward
  • View a sale history for each property to see which auctions it has been listed on in the past, and whether it is scheduled to be sold in the future
  • View a list of liabilities owed on the property to get a better understanding of the outstanding obligations due on the property
  • Download even more information as a spreadsheet, including the liabilities, to perform custom analysis
  • More easily use the app on a handheld devise like a tablet or smartphone
  • Keep track of the properties already viewed by changing the color of the pin icon representing each property
  • View additional information about the result of an auction, including the sale date a property has been postponed too

More to Come!

The Office of the Philadelphia Sheriff is committed to providing full transparency by offering as much information as possible online in a way that is easy to access. We look forward to continuing to innovate the way we communicate with the public online.

homepage iphone
dart android

Sheriff Jewell Williams attends first City Council meeting of 2016 called to order by City Council President Darrell Clarke. Deputies from the Office of the Philadelphia Sheriff are on duty guarding all attending the Council meetings.