ST. LOUIS – As gunshot injuries rise, here in St. Louis, BJC Healthcare is expanding its existing gun lock program to more than 20 locations.

“There’s even [an] increase in anxiety and depression in children who may not have seen a firearm injury or have been shot themselves, but kids who hear them, around them in their neighborhood, at school,” said Dr. Lindsay Clukies, a Washington University emergency physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a Level 1 pediatric trauma center. It broke a record in 2022 by treating 163 firearm injuries.

Clukies said these are injuries that can be prevented through safe storage of firearms.

“We actually, in 2022, saw more children shot by a firearm here at our hospital that year than even before. So our numbers are double what they were, say, five years ago,” she said.

After conducting a survey, the health care system found two-thirds of families who received a gun lock are using it to safely store their firearm.

Children’s has given out more than 5,000 free gun locks through the program, through a free basket in the emergency room, and kiosks.

These kiosks offer pre-packaged gun locks and pamphlets explaining how to use them.

BJC said it will also place the baskets of free gun locks at their Children’s Specialty Care Centers, the Children’s Center for Families Resource Library, and all five of the Children’s Safety Stop locations.

Free gun locks are available by request through the Children’s Hospital website.

BJC has made these kiosks available in 14 emergency rooms in Missouri and Illinois.