For Release: Wednesday, October 14, 1998
New VPC Report Exposes Voluntary Agreement’s Failure
A widely hailed voluntary agreement on trigger locks between the White House and the firearms industry has made virtually no difference in the way handguns are sold, according to a new report released today by the Violence Policy Center. The agreement, first announced with great fanfare at a Rose Garden ceremony last October, effectively killed federal legislation requiring safety devices.
The survey of 58 firearm distributors and dealers in 25 states found that 16 of the 20 handgun manufacturers that promised to include safety devices with their guns have apparently not done so. Three of the four remaining companies were already supplying safety devices before the agreement was completed. The report, Broken Promises: The Failure of the Trigger Lock “Deal” Between the Gun Industry and the White House, also found widespread confusion and misinformation among firearms sales professionals about which companies provide safety devices with handguns.
“This isn’t what was promised a year ago,” said VPC Director of Federal Policy Kristen Rand. “As soon as the press and the public looked the other way, most handgun makers resumed business as usual.”
The report faults the informal, voluntary nature of the “handshake deal” for its collapse. The agreement, never released in written form, relies on the honor system to ensure that manufacturers who promise to abide by the deal actually do so. It includes no monitoring and no penalties for failure to comply.
“This deal was nothing more than a gun industry publicity shot with the Rose Garden as a prop,” Rand said. “Handgun manufacturers have squandered their chance at voluntary action. Congress must step in to get this job done.”