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Bound to Misfire: The dangers of gun locks
Tech Central Station ^ | 11/9/03 | John Lott

Posted on 11/09/2003 2:42:30 PM PST by Washingtonian

Bound to Misfire

By John R. Lott, Jr.

This week President Bush's program, Project Childsafe, begins distributing 20 million gun locks. Over 712,000 locks will be given out just in New York. It seems like such a reasonable program, who could oppose it? After all, if a gun lock can save a life, it seems a small cost. Unfortunately, despite the obvious feel-good appeal of these rules, gun locks and safe storage laws are more likely to cost lives than to save them.

Many have seen the public service ads put out by the Clinton Justice Department showing the voices or pictures of children between the ages of four and eight, implying that there is an epidemic of accidental deaths of these young children. The ads create the impression that the archetype case involves naturally curious children shooting themselves or other children.

Take the discussion in one of the ads from 2000: "My brother Omar was eight years old when he died. He had a hole in his tummy. A bullet hit him. The gun came from the garage. I was just playing. I didn't mean to shoot daddy's gun."

Accidental gun deaths tragically claim children's lives, though fortunately they are much rarer than most people might think. During 2000 there were 37 accidental gun deaths for children under 10 in the U.S., In 1999 there were 31, and only six of these cases actually involved a child firing the gun. Indeed from 1995 to 1999 the entireUnited States saw only between five and nine cases a year where a child under ten either accidentally shot themselves or another child.

Obviously we want to avoid any deaths where possible, but some perspective is useful. With over 90 million adults owning a gun and almost 40 million children under 10, it is hard to think of almost any other potentially dangerous products kept in American homes that have as few accidental deaths associated with them. Over 1,260 children under ten died in cars in 1999. Another 370 died as pedestrians hit by cars. Accidents involving residential fires took 484 children's lives. Even 92 children under the age of five drowned accidentally in bathtubs.

The overwhelming majority of gun owners must be extremely careful or such gun accidents would be much more frequent.

Those who accidentally fire a gun are not typical people. Shooters are overwhelmingly adults who have problems with alcoholism and long criminal histories, particularly arrests for violent acts. They are also disproportionately involved in automobile crashes and are much more likely to have had their driver's license suspended or revoked. Even if these individuals were to use a lock, locks are not designed to stop adult males from firing their own gun.

Gun locks have their own problems. Most importantly, the increased time it takes to get the gun ready to deter a criminal. Locked guns are not as readily accessible for defensive gun uses. If criminals are deterred from attacking victims because they fear people might defend themselves, gun locks may therefore increase crime. Exacerbating this problem, many mechanical locks (such as barrel or trigger locks) also require that the gun be stored unloaded. Loading a gun obviously requires yet more time to respond to a criminal.

Guns clearly deter criminals, with Americans using guns defensively over 2 million times each year -- 4.5 times more frequently than the 500,000 times guns were used to commit crimes in 2001. Over 90 percent of the time simply brandishing the weapon stops an attack. Even though the police are extremely important at reducing crime, they simply can't be there all the time and virtually always end up at the crime scene after the crime has been committed.

Even if one has young children, it does not make sense to lock up a gun if one lives in a high crime urban area. Exaggerating the risks involved in gun ownership will make people lock up their guns or cause them not to own a gun in the first place and will result in more deaths, not fewer deaths.

Recent research that I have done in my book, The Bias Against Guns, examined juvenile accidental gun deaths and suicides for all the states in the United States from 1977 to 1998, found that safe storage laws had no impact on either type of death. However, what did happen was that law-abiding citizens were less able to defend themselves against crime. The sixteen states that adopted these laws during this period faced over 300 more murders and 4,000 more rapes per year. Burglaries also increased dramatically.

No one is exempt from criticism, whether Bush, Clinton, or the media. Unfortunately, bad advice, no matter how well intentioned, can have tragic consequences and cost lives.

Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of the book  The Bias Against Guns (Regnery, 2003).


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Editorial
KEYWORDS: bang; banglist; crime; gun; gunlocks; johnlott; locks; projectchildsafe

1 posted on 11/09/2003 2:42:30 PM PST by Washingtonian
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To: Washingtonian
--as usual, Professor Lott is completely correct--
2 posted on 11/09/2003 2:44:49 PM PST by rellimpank (Stop immigration now!)
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To: Washingtonian

3 posted on 11/09/2003 2:46:46 PM PST by South40
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To: Washingtonian
"The gun came from the garage. I was just playing. I didn't mean to shoot daddy's gun."

There's the problem. Hollywood teachd kids, by proxy, is that the first thing you do when you find a gun is to point it at someone and pull the triger. BANG BANG YOUR DEAD!
Never, and I mean NEVER has there been on shred of "Safe Gun Handling" by example, in any movie I have ever seen.

4 posted on 11/09/2003 2:57:30 PM PST by Falcon4.0
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To: *bang_list
Bang
5 posted on 11/09/2003 2:59:42 PM PST by Atlas Sneezed
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To: Washingtonian
Gun safes with a digital keypad offer a way to keep your gun at the ready with minimal access time.

<

Use a code-only safe that opens with a digital code as opposed to a safe that can be opened with a key.

Key safes are only as secure as your set of keys and key access is much slower. A simple entering of 4 numbers on a keypad and the safe opens quickly.

Not as fast as having the gun loaded and at the ready at the bedside but the quickest access you can get to your loaded firearm and still have it locked up.

6 posted on 11/09/2003 3:01:36 PM PST by BJungNan
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To: rellimpank
Why the reduction in crime in states that adopt mandatory concealed weapons permits never gets press play, I'll never know. Confronting criminals bent on hurting me has saved my life twice. At neither event would there have been time to take a gun lock off. The gun lock program makes no sense given the calm, dispassionate voice of the facts.
7 posted on 11/09/2003 3:05:47 PM PST by at bay (no deals, Jacquelyn, only choice of lobster, steak or chicken for last dinner party of one)
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To: BJungNan
The point was that despite "over 90 million adults owning a gun and almost 40 million children under 10" virtually none of the accidental gun deaths involve anything that could be stopped by gun locks. The book goes into this much more indepth, but the bottom line is that raising the costs of guns by $60 or so by requiring the lock also produces problems because feer poor people will own guns to protect themselves.
8 posted on 11/09/2003 3:07:32 PM PST by Washingtonian
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To: Washingtonian
In ten years, it'll be a felony NOT to have your guns unloaded, secured with a govt approved gun lock, and secured in a govt approved safe.

Naturally, there will need to be random inspections, to ensure compliance.

It's for the children.


9 posted on 11/09/2003 3:07:50 PM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: Washingtonian
Muttly guard his gun-locks with loaded gun.

10 posted on 11/09/2003 3:11:19 PM PST by PoorMuttly ("You cannot be a victim and a hero." - Hon. Clarence Thomas)
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To: Travis McGee
The only government approved safe will be in a government approved building.
11 posted on 11/09/2003 3:21:30 PM PST by Sharpshot613
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To: Washingtonian
Another gun law looking for a reason to exist.
12 posted on 11/09/2003 3:26:46 PM PST by Imal (The true leader of the Democratic Party is the King of Lies.)
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To: Washingtonian; All
The Second Amendment - Commentaries
13 posted on 11/09/2003 3:48:12 PM PST by PsyOp ( Citizenship ought to be reserved for those who carry arms. - Aristotle.)
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To: Washingtonian
Guns should not be locked, they should be loaded and carried so children will not find them and the world will be safer.
14 posted on 11/09/2003 4:37:32 PM PST by ThinkLikeWaterAndReeds
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To: Washingtonian
Difference between the Left & the Right pols-tax rates-that's about all.

W-like father like son. Hey did anybody really feel surprised at Daddy Bush giving Teddy the big wet one?
15 posted on 11/09/2003 7:47:32 PM PST by GatekeeperBookman ("Oh waiter! Please,I'll have the Tancredo '04. Jorge Arbusto tasted just like a dirty Fox")
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To: Travis McGee
In ten years, it'll be a felony NOT to have your guns unloaded, secured with a government approved gun lock, and secured in a government approved safe. Naturally, there will need to be random inspections, to ensure compliance.

From what I hear, Canadians already have to keep their guns in a place as you have described. I can see it happening in a state like California within ten years. Guys like the below pictured clown will help it happen.


16 posted on 11/09/2003 8:31:39 PM PST by 2nd_Amendment_Defender ("It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains." -- Patrick Henry)
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To: Washingtonian
Equally bad is that some people will use gun locks on loaded guns -- which they are not supposed to do, but why lock an unloaded gun, then -- and they do not all keep the gun from being fired.

Safety is in the hands of the person handling the gun. No device will ever change that. Safety training, safety training, and safety training are the best ways to achieve safe gun handling.

If you don't want your kids to drown, you teach them how to swim. Yet we hide guns and create an irresistable attraction for the kids to explore on their own.
17 posted on 11/09/2003 8:56:13 PM PST by Badray (Molon Labe!)
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To: 2nd_Amendment_Defender; Sharpshot613
Sooner or later MM is going to meet "Longarm" in this debate.


18 posted on 11/09/2003 8:56:44 PM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: Travis McGee
I'd be concerned about this if it weren't done by a nice Republican we all helped elect (sarcasm to taste and bake until doen).
19 posted on 11/10/2003 9:25:44 AM PST by LibTeeth
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To: LibTeeth
Sometimes I worry more about the Rinos than the 'Rats.
20 posted on 11/10/2003 9:38:41 AM PST by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: autoresponder
Works ! ...

PLAY CHUCKIE TV

21 posted on 11/11/2003 5:44:29 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (Will work for tagline)
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To: Washingtonian; MeeknMing; Travis McGee; PhilDragoo; Chad Fairbanks; nopardons; Ragtime Cowgirl; ...







22 posted on 11/11/2003 7:03:55 AM PST by autoresponder ( http://0access.web1000.com/seeBS.gif - NEW URL! --> http://0access.web1000.com/alreg-xw.gif)
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To: MeeknMing


    WE KEEP TRIGGER LOCKS HERE!

        


23 posted on 11/11/2003 10:17:48 AM PST by autoresponder ( http://0access.web1000.com/seeBS.gif - NEW URL! --> http://0access.web1000.com/alreg-xw.gif)
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