For Release: Tuesday, June 8, 1999
House Amendment Would Fix Problem, Add Quality Standards
The Violence Policy Center demonstrated at a press conference today how the lack of quality standards undermines a Senate-passed bill mandating safety devices for handguns. The VPC joined with Reps. Julia Carson (D-IN) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) to support an amendment adding standards to the legislation.
“Without standards, dealers can follow the law by offering flimsy junk,” said VPC Director of Federal Policy Kristen Rand. “All gun locks are not created equal.”
Safety devices currently in the marketplace include plastic locks that are easily smashed, cable locks that can be cut with household tools, and boxes that would be sliced open along their hinges with an x-acto knife. At the press conference, Rand displayed several leading gun lock models and demonstrated how one of them can easily be broken away from the trigger with a few bangs of a hammer.
“In countless other areas where safety was threatened, strong standards saved lives from improved bicycle helmets to child-resistant aspirin bottles and cigarette lighters,” Rand said. “Guns are exempt from the health and safety laws that apply to these and virtually every other product in America. Without enforceable standards, gun dealers will be free to offer junk locks and sham safety.”
When Connecticut passed a gun lock law without standards in the mid-1990s, dealers there began offering cheap plastic devices they called “legality locks.”The situation improved somewhat when the state legislature revised the law to include minimal standards.
The Senate bill requires federally licensed gun dealers to provide a safety device with the sale of every new handgun. Jackson-Lee plans to offer an amendment in Judiciary Committee to strengthen the mandate by requiring that the devices meet standards written by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Her proposal is adapted from a bill introduced by Carson.