C. D. Tavares
To understand the hidden danger implicit in our
government's push to require trigger locks on every gun "for the sake of
the children," one first needs to know something about guns and trigger
locks -- a step too many politicians skip.
Many of our politicians
simply never learned that a trigger lock is not designed to secure a gun
that's capable of firing -- only a gun that's already harmless.
First, an unloaded gun can't ever shoot anyone.
The main danger to curious children lies in loaded, unsecured guns. People
assume trigger locks will solve this.
Now, examine an actual trigger lock. The
instructions molded into the side say: "DO NOT INSTALL THIS LOCK ON A
LOADED GUN." Why? Because the last thing you want to be doing with a loaded
gun is fooling around in the vicinity of its trigger. That's a sure formula for
an accidental discharge.
Many of our politicians simply never learned
that a trigger lock is not designed to secure a gun that's capable of firing --
only a gun that's already harmless. Likewise, gun control advocates who claim
trigger locks "can be rapidly disengaged" for self-defense purposes
misrepresent the issue. Home-protection guns are kept loaded for the same reason
that spare tires are kept inflated. Certainly they need to be secured from
children. But, just as we have discovered with airbags, a one-size-fits-all
"remedy" of government-mandated trigger locks will instead make guns more
dangerous to a large class of people.
Wait -- there's more. Did you realize that a trigger lock on an unloaded gun
won't hamper a child in the least from loading and cocking that gun? Put a
revolver into this state and no one can unload and make it safe without
access to the (now very sensitive) trigger. Whoever removes that lock had better
have very steady nerves.
What about the theft protection benefits?
Forget it. For the effort of a minute at home with a hacksaw, a thief will steal
a trigger-locked gun as readily as an unlocked one.
Crusaders who push trigger locks as
"common-sense devices that will keep our children safe" are doing
nothing more than relying on their untrained intuition as a substitute for
actual knowledge. This is the same variety of "common sense" that once
advised humanity that the earth was flat and the sun revolved around it.
Politicians fail the same test. Three months
ago, the Springfield city council introduced a trigger-lock ordinance with great
enthusiasm and imperceptible foresight. It prohibited storage of guns in
blast-proof safes unless they were also "protected" by $10 trigger
locks. It included guns in police officers' holsters. It even included guns
being shipped to Smith & Wesson for repair. (One advocate declared this a
benefit, until it was pointed out that the key would necessarily have to
These flaws were immediately apparent to gun
owners. However, gun owners are rarely consulted when such proposals are
drafted, because their sponsors too often couch them as adversarial legislation.
Actual child safety concerns get lost in the politics.
So what do firearms experts recommend to keep
children safe? Different hardware options exist to fit different personal
situations. Simplex-lock and electronic lockboxes provide both keyless
childproof security and quick access to loaded guns, plus they can be bolted
down for theft prevention. For a recreational gun, a cable lock through the
barrel or a common padlock around a revolver's top strap can keep it from being
loaded or fired. Safes and security cabinets are available at many price points
for those with multiple guns.
But the best protection is to discuss guns with
your children, just as you discuss sex or drugs. Consult the
child safety page at www.goal.org. Get a copy of Massad Ayoob's Gun-Proof
Your Children, and learn how to defuse the "forbidden fruit"
syndrome. Tell your kids that if they see a gun, they should "stop -- don't
touch -- leave the area -- and tell an adult."
And do this even if your family owns no guns,
because 45% of your friends and neighbors do. Don't count on some technological
gimmick to absolve you of your duty to provide solid, responsible parenting.
D. Tavares is a certified gun safety instructor who has been residing in
in Northboro, MA. Once a supporter of Handgun Control, Inc., he saw the light
by studying the facts and now enthusiastically supports the right of the
people to keep and bear arms.