CITY OF HENDERSONVILLE, TN
Mayor R.J. "Hank" Thompson
Trigger Lock Program
The accidental shooting death of a 13-year-old Hendersonville youth by his cousin prompted Mayor R. J. "Hank" Thompson to implement a Trigger Lock Program in the City. Realizing the need for gun safety in the home and that the general public is not aware of trigger locks, the Mayor launched a program offering a free trigger lock to residents and a course on gun safety in the home taught by the Police Department. Upon the Mayor's request, the Teen Board agreed to fund the program with proceeds from their past year's activities. The first allotment of 50 trigger locks was ordered, and response from the citizens was good.
A short time later, a local 12-year-old youth was accidentally shot in the stomach while he and a friend were playing with a 12-gauge shotgun. The Mayor sent letters and publicly asked local civic organizations to continue the Trigger Lock Program. Several of these organizations sent in donations for the program. Displaying the trigger lock on a 12-gauge shotgun at a Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting which was later televised on the local cable network renewed the response from the citizenry. Approximately 100 trigger locks have been distributed.
The suicide of a 13-year-old shocked the City again, and the Mayor decided to continue the program by ordering a new shipment of trigger locks and attending or having an Alderman attend the school PTO meetings to explain the program and have trigger locks available. The Police Department also is holding a gun safety course once each year.
"Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy for the public to become aware of the danger of unguarded firearms," says Mayor Thompson. "If one life can be saved by the locks which are given away, then the program is successful."
The City of Hendersonville Parks and Recreation Department, in conjunction with the local softball and baseball leagues, is working on getting all coaches, commissioners, and league representatives certified in CPR.
Our local baseball league with 900 youth and 75 coaches, and the Girl's Slowpitch and Fastpitch Softball League with 500 youth and 45 coaches, are working to get the certifications. The local fire department has volunteered the services of its personnel to train all of the coaches. The two leagues have made it mandatory that all coaches be CPR certified or they will not be allowed to coach.
The Parks Department has sent correspondence to all leagues asking that all youth sports coaches be CPR certified by June 1, 1998.
"We feel this is a program that will benefit all parties -- youth, spectators, and all personnel that it takes to run a youth sports program," says Mayor Thompson. "We have also incorporated special training schools and clinics such as the Doyle Baseball Clinic for coaches, NYSCA for Fast Pitch and Youth Basketball and TSSA mandatory clinics for youth soccer coaches. We feel that this will improve all aspects of youth sports in our community and maybe help save a live in the event of an emergency."
This project was specifically designed to address the problem of teenage drinking of alcoholic beverages and to find some means of resolving the problem. Feedback from a number of teenagers indicated that because so few activities were available to them, they entertained themselves by having drinking parties.
Prom nights for the two high schools in Hendersonville were of particular concern as the young people would go into Nashville for their breakfasts and some of the teens would rent hotel rooms for the evening. Some people did not approve of this practice, but no one offered an alternative.
Mayor Thompson enlisted the help of citizens and parents to host "After Prom Breakfasts" for the two high schools. The Board of Directors of the Bluegrass Country Club permitted the use of the Country Club for the breakfast/dance at no charge. Several local merchants donated food for the breakfasts.
Regal Indian Lake Cinema, Hendersonville Family Fun Center, Drakes Creek Activity Center and Trinity City's Virtual Reality Theater cooperated with the City by staying open all night and offering discount tickets for teenage activities. A $10 ticket permitted the students to enjoy breakfast, dancing to music provided by a DJ, listening to music, bowling, putt putt golf, a batting cage, first-run movies and a chance to drive a new Camaro -- Tom Bannen Chevrolet donated the use of a new Camaro for the night to the student with the winning ticket. Dulaney Printing donated the tickets. Parents and interested adults volunteered to chaperone the activities.
This project eliminated in one year what parents had complained about for several years. The Mayor's program helped make some people more aware of the problem that was being experienced in Hendersonville, and it gave others a way to help solve the problem -- community involvement. By providing a more wholesome environment for the teenagers on prom night, driving while drinking, which is a danger not only to the teenagers but to anyone else that might be on the roads, is decreased or eliminated. "We have now completed our sixth year of this project," says the Mayor, "and the popularity and success continues to increase each year."
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (615) 822-1000
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.