Published March 1, 2004, in The Union Leader (Manchester NH)

Gun locks; Helping criminals, not children

WITH THE HELP of Sen. Judd Gregg, gun control advocates won a symbolic victory in the U.S. Senate last Thursday -- one that could clear the way for further unnecessary and liberty-reducing firearms regulations.

On a vote of 70-27 (with Gregg voting yes and Sen. John Sununu voting no) the Senate approved an amendment to a gun industry liability bill that requires every gun sold in the United States to come with a lock or other type of child safety device. Of course, the gun buyer will have to pay for the device; it won't be free. Because the law applies to all gun purchases, it will require the sale of child safety devices to millions of gun owners who have no children.

California Sen. Barbara Boxer claims that the amendment will cause accidental shootings of children to "go way down." The chances of this happening are next to nil. The law does not require the guns to be stored with the gun locks in place. But even if it did, the results would be disastrous for children and families.

Gun control expert Dr. John Lott studied safe-storage laws that were passed in 15 states. These laws went further than the Senate amendment in that they required guns to be stored "safely" so that children could not find them and fire them. While these laws caused no statistically significant reduction in accidental gun deaths of children, they dramatically increased crime.

"During the five full years after the passage of the safe storage laws, the fifteen states face an annual average increase of 309 more murders, 3,860 more rapes, 24,650 more robberies, and ove 25,000 more aggravated assaults," Lott concluded.

Though the Senate bill will not protect children, it could open the door for further regulation of firearms possession. When it fails to reduce accidental gun deaths, gun control supporters will argue that it needs to be strengthened, that Washington needs to control how gun owners store their guns. We hope the House uses its common sense and rejects this amendment as it rejected a similar piece of legislation five years ago.

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