Diedel's campaign dovetails with the $50 million ChildSafe Project sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department, launched in Pennsylvania on Dec. 17.
Since then, 877,000 free cable locks have been given to 655 local police departments, county sheriffs and state police to distribute to the public, project spokesman Richard Schleif said.
More locks are expected to be given out to communities this summer so the project can meet its goal of 883,500.
Chester County Sheriff Carolyn B. Welsh said her office had dispensed at least 1,000 locks.
"We do have them, we've been giving them out, and they're going at a pretty lively rate," Welsh said.
The locks, which sell for about $5, are available free at some gun stores. Most stores charge for safety training, however.
Target World Inc. in Chalfont, Bucks County, has given away about 75 of the several hundred it obtained from Diedel early this year. Archery & Gun Outfitters in Montgomeryville also received free locks.
"If everybody used the free locks, and the locks that the manufacturers provide for new guns, wow, what a difference that would make in the number of firearms accidents," Danny Carr, owner of Target World, said.
The Children's Defense Fund in Washington reported that of the 2,911 children and people under 20 who were killed by firearms in 2001, 6 percent, or 182, involved accidents.
Most guns in those shootings, the report said, came from the victim's home or the home of a friend or relative. They were stored unlocked and loaded, or unloaded but with ammunition present.
Most such accidents happen after school, on weekends, and in summer when children aren't supervised, Diedel said.
During the June 11 training session, Diedel told 21 people that guns should be disassembled for storage for maximum safety. Barring that, he said, they should be unloaded and locked, then stored separately from ammunition.
Diedel demonstrated how a revolver, semiautomatic pistol and shotgun can be disabled using the lock, which consists of a plastic-sheathed metal cable and padlock with key.
"Safety can't take a backseat because of inconvenience," said Diedel, who leaves his service revolver at work and stores his gun collection in a refrigerator-size vault.
Dennis Cakouros, 56, an emergency-room physician at Mercy Suburban Hospital in Norristown, attended the session with sons Timothy, 15, and Bryan, 13.
In 20 years at the hospital, he's seen many youngsters hurt by guns.
"Pick an appendage. We've seen every one," Cakouros said of the gunshot victims who come into the emergency room. Eye injuries from BB guns, he said, are especially common.
Cakouros learned about guns as a Boy Scout and believes there's nothing scary about them - as long as safety training is involved.
"If you take the mystique away," Cakouros said, "you can eliminate the accidents."
Diedel borrowed the idea for the gun-safety course from police in Montgomery Township. He obtained 5,000 gun locks after getting permission from Lower Gwynedd Township to participate in ChildSafe.
Most of the locks went to gun shops, other Montgomery County police departments, and local residents. He has 500 left.
Diedel devised the curriculum on his own time because he felt the subject matter was important to disseminate to gun owners.
The simple truth, Diedel stressed, is that owners must not make any mistakes while handling or storing firearms.
"A simple lapse in judgment can put somebody in the emergency room or the morgue," he said. "Once the gun goes bang, it's too late to call the bullet back."
Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to Get a Free Cable Gun Lock
Municipal police departments
Abington, Aldan, Ambler, Bensalem, Boyertown, Bridgeport, Bristol Borough, Bristol Township, Buckingham, Chalfont, Chester, Clifton Heights, Coatesville, Collegeville, Collingdale, Conshohocken, Darby Township, Downingtown, Doylestown Township, Glenolden, Horsham, Lansdowne, Limerick, Lower Gwynedd, Malvern, Media, New Hope,
Norristown, Penndel, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Quakertown, Ridley Park, Sharon Hill, Souderton, Swarthmore, Telford, Towamencin, West Conshohocken, Yardley
Sheriff, 17 N. Church St.,
Suite 126, West Chester
Go to barracks, ask for community-service officer, or call Trooper Joe Nolte at 717-533-9111
A Message for Children
* Don't go looking for guns in your house or a friend's house. Don't let other kids look for guns in your house.
* If you find a gun in your house, or anywhere else, stop, leave it alone. Don't touch it. Don't let anyone else touch it. Leave the area and tell an adult.
* Even if a gun looks like a toy, don't touch it. Some real guns look like toys, so don't take a chance. Leave the area and tell an adult.
SOURCES: Safety Curriculum; Project ChildSafe; National Shooting Sports Foundation