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Lock and Load
NY Times ^ | November 13, 2004 | NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Posted on 11/13/2004 2:34:57 PM PST by neverdem

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Nothing kills Democratic candidates' prospects more than guns. If it weren't for guns, President-elect Kerry might now be conferring with incoming Senate Majority Leader Daschle.

Since the Brady Bill took effect in 1994, gun-control efforts have been a catastrophe for Democrats. They have accomplished almost nothing nationally, other than giving a big boost to the Republicans. Mr. Kerry tried to get around the problem by blasting away at small animals, but nervous Red Staters still suspected Democrats of plotting to seize guns.

Moreover, it's clear that in this political climate, further efforts at gun control are a nonstarter. You can talk until you're blue in the face about the 30,000 gun deaths each year, about children who are nine times as likely to die in a gun accident in America as elsewhere in the developed world, about the $17,000 average cost (half directly borne by taxpayers) of treating each gun injury. But nationally, gun control is dead.

So it's time for a fundamentally new approach, emblematic of how Democrats must think in new ways about old issues. The new approach is to accept that handguns are part of the American landscape, but to use a public health approach to try to make them much safer.

The model is automobiles, for a high rate of traffic deaths was once thought to be inevitable. But then we figured out ways to mitigate the harm with seat belts, air bags and collapsible steering columns, and since the 1950's the death rate per mile driven has dropped 80 percent.

Similar steps are feasible in the world of guns.

"You can tell whether a camera is loaded by looking at it, and you should be able to tell whether a gun is loaded by looking at it," said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Professor Hemenway has written "Private Guns, Public Health," a brilliant and clear-eyed primer for the country.

We take safety steps that reduce the risks of everything from chain saws (so they don't kick back and cut off an arm) to refrigerators (so kids can't lock themselves inside). But firearms have been exempt. Companies make cellphones that survive if dropped, but some handguns can fire if they hit the ground.

Professor Hemenway notes that in the 1990's, two children a year, on average, died after locking themselves in car trunks. This was considered unacceptable, so a government agency studied the problem, and General Motors and Ford engineered safety mechanisms to prevent such deaths.

In contrast, 15 children under the age of 5 die annually in fatal gun accidents in the U.S., along with 18 children 5 to 9 years old. We routinely make aspirin bottles childproof, but not guns, even though childproof pistols were sold back in the 19th century - they wouldn't fire unless the shooter put pressure on the handle as well as the trigger.

Aside from making childproof guns, here are other steps we could take:

Require magazine safeties so a gun cannot be fired when the clip is removed (people can forget that a bullet may still be in the chamber and pull the trigger). Many guns already have magazine safeties, but not all.

Finance research to develop "smart guns," which can be fired only by authorized users. If a cellphone can be locked with a PIN, why not a gun? This innovation would protect children - and thwart criminals.

Start public safety campaigns urging families to keep guns locked up in a gun safe or with a trigger lock (now, 12 to 14 percent of gun owners with young children keep loaded and unlocked weapons in their homes).

Encourage doctors to counsel depressed patients not to keep guns, and to advise new parents on storing firearms safely.

Make gun serial numbers harder for criminals to remove.

Create a national database for gun deaths. In a traffic fatality, 120 bits of data are collected, like the positions of the passengers and the local speed limit, so we now understand what works well (air bags, no "right on red") and what doesn't (driver safety courses). Statistics on gun violence are much flimsier, so we don't know what policies would work best, and much of the data hurled by rival camps at each other is inaccurate.

Would these steps fly politically? Maybe. One poll showed that 88 percent of the public favors requiring that guns be childproof. And such measures demonstrate the kind of fresh thinking that can keep alive not only thousands of Americans, but the Democratic Party as well.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: bang; banglist; democraticparty; firearms; guncontrol; gunvote; secondamendment
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To: neverdem

BTTT


21 posted on 11/13/2004 2:48:14 PM PST by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: Restorer
I see no reason why we should knee-jerk reject the very idea of making guns safer

My guns are already safe.

22 posted on 11/13/2004 2:48:27 PM PST by paul51 (11 September 2001 - Never forget)
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To: neverdem

A magazine is not a clip, and vice versa.


23 posted on 11/13/2004 2:48:36 PM PST by lancer (If you are not with us, you are against us!)
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To: JessieHelmsJr
That's excellent advice!

I also think they need to send a loud, clear message that a bug-chasing, Christain-hating man buggering another anonymous man in an SF alleyway is refreshing --a mark of idealism and freedom.

Why did they lose?

I think it's clear they just need to keep repeating that kind of message again and again until it's really, unforgettably seared into the minds of middle-class Americans living in "Jesusland".

24 posted on 11/13/2004 2:49:34 PM PST by gaijin
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To: Restorer
I love my firearm! It's safe and fun!


25 posted on 11/13/2004 2:50:10 PM PST by airborne (God bless and keep our fallen heroes.)
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To: Restorer

Make guns safer? They are desinged to KILL, not be some form of metallic artwork!

The point of our rebuttal is just that. Next they would want to make knives safer. How, by making them dull?

Guns are inherently safe. It's the HUMANS that are the safety concern. Guns don't just jump off of the shelf and shoot people, any more than SUVs intentionally run down little old ladies in crosswalks all by themselves.

There are already over 30,000 laws on the books regulating the gun industry. You want to throw some more in there? What part of "SHall not be infringed" don't you get? HUH????


26 posted on 11/13/2004 2:51:10 PM PST by datura (It's Time To Destroy The MSM, And Their Politically Correct Ideology/Gay Agenda)
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To: neverdem
Create a national database for gun deaths

There it is! Took a little bit to get to but I knew it'd show up.

27 posted on 11/13/2004 2:51:30 PM PST by Uncledave
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To: neverdem
The model is automobiles, for a high rate of traffic deaths was once thought to be inevitable. But then we figured out ways to mitigate the harm with seat belts, air bags and collapsible steering columns, and since the 1950's the death rate per mile driven has dropped 80 percent.

And we have fewer traffic accidents? Substantially fewer deaths?

Reliance on simply making equipment more complicated to save lives does not work. Operator training is the key.

Driver's Ed (now removed from many school systems in favor of putting condoms on cucumbers) did help people be more competent drivers.

Firearms safety education eliminates accidents. More complicated firearms are of questionable value.

If all firearms are considered loaded all the time (rule no. 1), no one gets shot unintentionally.

If you depend on gee-gaws to make you safe, you are dead and you don't even know it.

28 posted on 11/13/2004 2:52:07 PM PST by Smokin' Joe (I'm from North Dakota and I'm all FOR Global Warming! Bring it ON!)
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To: neverdem
Grip safety is a feature in Browning's 1911. I confess to being grossly ignorant, but the author writes about grip safeties in 19th century pistols, i.e. preceding Browning's design, and I've never heard of any such firearm. Is it a regular BS, or are there some exotic 19 century firearms for which it is true?
29 posted on 11/13/2004 2:52:10 PM PST by GSlob
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To: neverdem
"You can tell whether a camera is loaded by looking at it, and you should be able to tell whether a gun is loaded by looking at it," said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Professor Hemenway has written "Private Guns, Public Health," a brilliant and clear-eyed primer for the country.


You CAN tell if every gun is loaded, because, as a weapon
you have to assume that it is.

It's rule #1 in firearms safety.....

(at least it's how I was raised)

8^)
30 posted on 11/13/2004 2:52:32 PM PST by The SISU kid (I'm the swizzle stick in the cocktail of life)
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To: Restorer

Guns can be made safer by prosecuting criminals to full extent. When thieves, rapists, and burglars are behind bars, we're all much safer. And make them do all the time they are sentenced to, instead of letting them out early.


31 posted on 11/13/2004 2:52:40 PM PST by Imabeliever (Islam is the religion of fear, hatred, murder, and terrorism.)
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To: neverdem
And once we've made guns safe, we can work on knives next!

Why, with those sharp metal edges, somebody is liable to cut themselves!

32 posted on 11/13/2004 2:53:38 PM PST by airborne (God bless and keep our fallen heroes.)
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To: paul51; Joe Brower
Eddie Eagle worked in the Orlando area when an off-duty cop unknowingly dropped his personal handgun in an elementary school auditorium and the kids knew what to do ... Stop, don't touch, leave the area and tell an adult ... and a whole bunch of them did. (source)

My 7 year old knows that by heart. Yours should too.

33 posted on 11/13/2004 2:54:43 PM PST by NonValueAdded ("We are in the process of allowing them to self-actualise" LtC. Rainey, Fallujah, 11/04)
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To: neverdem
Moreover, it's clear that in this political climate, further efforts at gun control are a nonstarter. You can talk until you're blue in the face about the 30,000 gun deaths each year, about children who are nine times as likely to die in a gun accident in America as elsewhere in the developed world, about the $17,000 average cost (half directly borne by taxpayers) of treating each gun injury. But nationally, gun control is dead.

Hey, computer geeks! Let's help this guy out with his statstics! I cannot remember much BASIC any more, but I am sure many people can write him a nice stat generator! I haven't touched this stuff since the '80's so let's clean this up and help this guy's intellectual honesty so he doesn't have to actually make it up himself!


0 REM FAKE GUN STAT GENERATOR

10 N=(RND(1)*50000)

20 CH=(RND(1)*9)

30 D=(RND(1)*20000)

40 PRINT N:PRINT "GUN DEATHS PER YEAR"

50 PRINT CH:PRINT "LIKLIHOOD OF DEAD CHILDREN"

60 PRINT D: PRINT "COST OF GUN INJURIES"

70 INPUT F$: TYPE "MORE FAKE GUN STATS? Y/N"

80 IF F$="Y" THEN GOTO 10

90 IF F$="N" THEN TYPE "COMPUTERS NEVER LIE" :END

34 posted on 11/13/2004 2:54:59 PM PST by Gorzaloon (So begins my new KERRY-FREE Taglines. Oh Relief!)
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To: GSlob

Smith & Wesson made a grip safety revolver many years ago, but I can't recall the model name or number.


35 posted on 11/13/2004 2:55:18 PM PST by Imabeliever (Islam is the religion of fear, hatred, murder, and terrorism.)
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To: Smokin' Joe

Beat me by 25 seconds....

8^)


36 posted on 11/13/2004 2:55:20 PM PST by The SISU kid (I'm the swizzle stick in the cocktail of life)
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To: Restorer
"Although attempts to ban older "unsafe" guns should be resisted, I see no reason why we should knee-jerk reject the very idea of making guns safer."

Amendment V

nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MISSOURI, et al., PETITIONERS v. SHRINK MISSOURI GOVERNMENT PAC et al. ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT [January 24, 2000]

Justice Stevens

"I make one simple point. Money is property;"

Make sure the taxpayer "compensates" gun makers for "taking" their property (money) for the public use of "safety," then we can start the debate of mandated safety features.

37 posted on 11/13/2004 2:55:37 PM PST by tahiti
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To: neverdem

This is unintentionally funny. I'm sure heads nod up and down in agreement when he runs this by his friends at Manhattan cocktail parties. Has this character ever changed the brakes or alternator on a car?


38 posted on 11/13/2004 2:55:39 PM PST by dennisw (G_D - against Amelek for all generations.)
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To: neverdem
"You can tell whether a camera is loaded by looking at it, and you should be able to tell whether a gun is loaded by looking at it," said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

I can tell whether a gun is loaded or not. If it's disassembled, it's not loaded. If it's in one piece, it's loaded. That's not hard at all.

39 posted on 11/13/2004 2:55:47 PM PST by AlaskaErik
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To: Imabeliever

If the 2nd Amendment were fully enforced - without all of the modern infringements - the crimes you mention would be almost nonexistent.

An armed society is a polite society.


40 posted on 11/13/2004 2:56:16 PM PST by datura (It's Time To Destroy The MSM, And Their Politically Correct Ideology/Gay Agenda)
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