For Release: Thursday, June 29, 2006
Washington, DC — The vote yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives to prohibit the enforcement of a new federal law that requires gun manufacturers and dealers to provide child safety locks or safe storage devices with all handguns makes it clear that Congress values the loyalty of the gun lobby more than the welfare of children, Kristen Rand, Violence Policy Center legislative director, stated today. The amendment was attached to the fiscal year 2007 spending bill (H.R. 5672) for the Departments of Commerce, Justice and State–which includes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The bill has yet to be considered in the Senate.
Ninety children and teens aged 16 and under died from unintentional gunshot wounds in 2003, the most recent data available from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reveals. More than 2,000 were injured in that age group by unintentional gunfire in 2004 (2004 data is not available for gun deaths). The child safety lock requirement was passed in 2005 in an effort to reduce the risk of gunshot wounds among children. This federal law is one of very few safety regulations that applies to the gun industry, an industry otherwise exempt from federal health and safety regulation.
The amendment was sponsored by Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO). Adds Rand, Representative Musgrave’s claim that trigger locks do not stop accidental shootings amounts to no more than uninformed opinion that is contradicted by research showing that safe storage laws reduce unintentional shootings by 23 percent. Furthermore, a study published in 2005 in the journal Pediatrics found that 1.69 million children and youth in the United States under age 18 are living in households with loaded and unlocked firearms.