Responding To A Detroit News Special Report
[In December 2003], the Detroit News ran what they called a “special report” on firearms manufacturers and safety issues. For three days, they ran multiple stories, describing victims in graphic detail, and attempting to blame gun manufacturers for negligently ignoring safety devices that would have prevented the incidents. It was a tour-de-force of anti-gun propaganda. But propaganda is all it was.
I have written an extensive rebuttal of each story they posted. Please read the rebuttal along with the original story. But before you do that, read the rest of this article to give yourself a grounding in the basic facts of the issue — a grounding the Detroit News doesn’t want you to have.
Some facts from www.gunfacts.info about death from firearms accidents: Compared to dying in a firearms accident, the average person is twice as likely to choke to death, seven times more likely to be poisoned, ten times more likely to die in a fall, and 31 times more likely to die in a car accident. Think about those numbers for a second. Then realize those estimates are from 1997, and accidental firearms deaths have fallen every year since, even though the number of firearms in the US has grown and continues to grow. The “installed base” of firearms in US households is estimated at around 200 million firearms, with one firearm-owning household for every 2 or 3 unarmed households..
Want a solid number? Let’s look at children, since the Detroit News loves to present children as victims. In 1996, there were 21 accidental gun deaths for children under 15. Not 21 per day as the media or gun control advocacy groups might have led you to expect: 21. Period. That’s all.
So we’re not exactly dealing with a crisis here.
The real motive behind this special report is the chance to influence the manufacturer immunity bill currently in the Senate. The bill is designed to protect firearms manufacturers from being sued over criminal acts, in order to block a series of politically-motivated lawsuits seeking to impose gun control via the courts. The Detroit News wants to make it politically difficult to pass this bill.
But to do that, they have to take some serious liberties with common sense.
One of their articles covers a defect in pre-1981 Remington hunting rifles. Yes, this particular problem has been fixed for over 20 years; still they seem to feel it’s both current news and relevant to the current bill. A different section deals with Chinese SKS rifles, currently illegal to import for the past 10 years, and manufactured in 1945 — at the LATEST. Hmm. Real current problem.
Then they spend an entire article attacking Glock for lacking safety features that Glock has deliberately chosen to avoid, in favor of a design that will always fire when the trigger is pulled, and never fire when the trigger is not pulled. Although this is a departure from the tradition of manual safety devices that could block the trigger, it’s not an inherently unsafe one. Police departments have demostrated their approval of this design by purchasing Glock firearms in droves. You don’t have to agree with the design decision Glock made, because there are firearms with with traditional safety devices available. It’s disingenous to call this design decision a safety defect without so much as explaining the reasoning behind it.
And then there’s the “victim” file. By that I mean the article which spends its several pages describing a series of incidents in which a child or young adult shot a friend or family member. But there are some common threads to these cases: in almost all of them, the shooter was not authorized to have access to the firearm, and when they gained access, their first thought was to remove the magazine, point the gun at the victim, and pull the trigger.
The Detroit News thinks that’s an argument for “magazine safeties” which prevent the gun from firing if the magazine is removed. Guns with such devices are available, but the Detroit News would like them made mandatory, or at a minimum, they would like the victims (or their families) to be able to sue the gun manufacturers out of business… because their friend or child thought that pointing a gun at a human being and pulling the trigger was some sort of funny joke or acceptable horseplay.
Ha-ha. Very funny. Now take me to a hospital.
What those children lacked wasn’t a magazine safety on the firearm they weren’t supposed to have access to anyway. What they lacked was any concept of consequences or responsibility for their actions. How ironic, then, that the parents of those children are being asked to deny their own responsibility for their child’s ignorance of and access to their firearm.
As you’ve probably guessed, this “special report” isn’t exactly the most unbiased representation of the facts you’re likely to find. But now that the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act is the law of the land, approved by the Supreme Court, biased reporting like this is going to become the order of the day.
“Faulty Remington Rifles Shatter Lives”
There are a couple things to bear in mind here as we begin a careful examination of the Detroit News’ attack on Remington.
- They’ve gone back to 1996 to find an illustrative incident, regarding a gun that was bought (used) in 1988. Thats about 15 years — quite a long time for something that is supposed to illustrate a current, serious problem. Especially when you have to go back even further to find the date of original sale.
- They claim the problem dates back to 1947, and their quoted cost figure to 1981, which means the “32 cents per rifle” figure is in 1981 “cents” rather than 2003 “cents” — what would be an almost trivial cost today would be more serious in 1981.
- They claim that over 100 people have been injured by this design flaw since 1970. Reality check here. 100 people over 30 years? More children drown in bathtubs over a SINGLE year.
- This “design flaw” does not occur on new rifles. The firing mechanism must first be damaged or worn.
- And, of course, in order for this design flaw to actually injure anyone, the person holding the gun must break the rules of gun safety — by pointing a loaded gun at something they are not willing to shoot.
Leaving aside the interesting habit of the Detroit News reporters of quoting from lawyers on only one side of these cases, there’s an interesting ratio here: 1,500 complaints resulting in 100 cases. That is, a 15-to-1 ratio of people experiencing the problem versus people being injured by the problem. Once more we see that safe gun handling is the order of the day.
Hmm. I’m trying to recall the theme of this series — you know, how current laws are not enough to encourage responsible behavior from firearm manufacturers? And yet, I’m seeing that Remington fixed this problem in 1982, and has a recall in progress for guns made prior to that year!
Seems like Remington is making it right to me.
“Top Police Gun Prone to Accidental Firing”
As any lawyer could tell you, confidentiality agreements regarding legal settlements and documents examined during discovery in a lawsuit are extremely common. Lawsuits often deal with and uncover many kinds of internal details of business’s operation that could provide valuable information to competitors, or even to those opposing the business on other grounds — like gun control advocates. The existance of a secrecy agreement in no way presupposes that the manufacturer has something sinister to hide — no more than if any citizen found himself hauled into court would want the details of his own life exposed to public view.
If the plaintiffs in this case felt they had uncovered some compelling evidence, they could have chosen not to settle. The Detroit News in this case is unhappy that the terms of the settlement did not give them additional information with which to attack the gun industry, justified or not; and I have little sympathy for their desire to do so.
As for the facts of this case, and many of the others relating to Glock firearms, they are somewhat different than the description given by this editorial might indicate. Glock firearms use a safety mechanism called a “trigger safety”; they operate on the principle that the gun should fire when the trigger is pulled. Each time, every time. Police departments often choose Glock for exactly this reason. Glock firearms are simple to use; point the gun at the target and pull the trigger.
As the article itself admits, “The guns safety features effectively prevent accidental discharges if the weapon is dropped or bumped. But the Glock has no safety features that prevent it from firing if the trigger is accidentally pulled.” And this is by design. When you need a firearm, you need it to work. And when you are a police officer, the extra time needed to click off a safety could mean your life — and doubly so if you forget about the safety, and try to fire the gun while it is engaged.
Following the rules of gun safety with a Glock will prevent accidents just as with any other firearm. Don’t point the gun at what you aren’t willing to shoot; don’t pull the trigger unless you expect the gun to go off. Remember that each time you see someone talking about a firearms “accident”: if they pulled the trigger while the gun was pointed at someone, it’s not an accident.
People who buy Glock firearms do so making an informed decision about the qualities of the firearm. The popularity of Glock firearms with police departments across the nation suggests that the Glock designs are well-received and fill the needs of those departments well. That’s an indication of the free market working as designed — because other firearms, with more safety features and consequently less reliability in a crisis, are available if police departments wish to purchase them.
Nonsense. The design features of a Glock are clearly oriented towards the simple principle of firing when the trigger is pulled, each time and every time. As they say in software development, that’s a feature, not a bug. It does require careful handling, and some people may prefer a firearm with more safety features — but that’s no reason to prevent those who do have a need for the Glock’s design features from buying firearms with those features.
If you don’t want the gun to fire, don’t pull the trigger. It’s that simple.
Now, this is an allegation that I haven’t heard before. But, I do know the law on fully-automatic firearms. In case you do not, fully-automatic firearms are legal for civilians to own and transfer (but not to manufacture) by federal law. Some states restrict this further. But the federal law defining a fully-automatic weapon for this purpose defines it as any weapon capable of firing more than one round with a single trigger pull, or which is easily converted to do so.
Think about that for a moment. If you really could convert a Glock into a submachine gun in 15 seconds, the government would be regulating the Glock firearms as fully-automatic firearms already. The law makes no distinction between “fully automatic” and “readily converted to fully automatic”. And yet, Glocks are made and sold for civilian use every day.
So is this a valid claim? It’s hard to say. The Detroit News cites the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners website as the source of this claim. The only reference on that website is to an ATF advisory which is for “members only” and password protected. While the subject of the advisory is suggestive, without access to the full text it’s impossible to tell exactly what it says.
Did the Detroit News get special access to this advisory — or are they making assumptions based on the name and a website search?
“Defective Firearms Go Unchecked”
As you might guess, this isn’t an “investigation” so much as it is an editorial… and it isn’t an editorial so much as it is a polemic. So far, four separate stories on this theme have been published; more may be on the way. I will be debunking them here. For links to the additional stories, check the sidebar.
The basic premise is that gun manufacturers are somehow at fault for the stupidity of some gun owners who cause accidents with their firearms. The fact is, you would be very hard pressed to find a firearm on the market today that does not have at least one safety device incorporated into its design. Many have several.
But the authors of this piece aren’t about to let you start to wonder about the wisdom of their pronouncements. The very first thing you’ll see when you open up the link is a picture of a disabled child. The Web doesn’t carry the screeching “Save the CHILLLDREN!” sounds in the background, but any decent imagination will suffice to include them, because surely they are there.
Another thing that many people do not realize: firearms accidents are rare in this country. Firearms accidents involving children are extremely rare. Depending on his age, your child is more likely to die from drowning in a swimming pool or from injuries sustained playing football than he is from a firearms accident.
So why do we keep hearing about it? Because it’s the only way the news media can keep up the pressure on guns.
Actually, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms already regulates the manufacture of firearms. They are under some political restraint, true, because in the past they have been used as tools of anti-gun administrations trying to do a lot more than “regulate”. But the fact is, additional “safety standards” for firearms are nothing more than political tools to make firearms more expensive.
How can I know this? Simple: many of the proposed standards include such wise decisions as requiring the use of a metal with a melting point higher than some arbitrary number. Since there aren’t any firearms on the market that are actually in danger of melting from extended use, what relationship does this have to safety? Well, you see, it bans guns made from “cheap” material, thus effectively outlawing the infamous “Saturday Night Special” that gun controllers love to talk about.
What they don’t realize is that banning cheap firearms will deny the poor the ability to defend themselves effectively — but that’s another issue. My point is that the proposed “safety” standards often have nothing to do with safety.
Want another example? Try the case against Beretta being argued in California (after the original jury returned “not guilty”). The plaintiffs are arguing for a “chamber loaded indicator” as mandatory safety equipment on all firearms — and in fact that’s one of the proposals in this editorial. So what’s the problem? The gun used in the California incident that spawned the lawsuit had a chamber loaded indicator already. The plaintiffs claim it was “too small”.
The real problem in that case is that the person holding the gun broke the rules of gun safety:
Always point the gun in a safe direction.
Always assume all firearms are loaded.
Rather than following those basic rules, they pulled the trigger on a firearm they thought was unloaded while it was pointing at someone, and a tragedy occurred. That’s regrettable, but it’s not the fault of the manufacturer.
Can you hear the violins? But aside from the musical accompaniment, we have here a typical “firearm accident”. The editorial would like to blame this accident on the manufacturer. I would like to blame this accident on Walter Butler, who deliberately pointed a gun at someone and pulled the trigger. Guns are not toys; they are intended for purchase and use by responsible adults.
“The reaction of the gun industry is to blame all unintentional shootings on human error and negligence,” Collins said. “But part of manufacturing is to assume that human error will occur and find ways to minimize it. We have applied this approach to appliances in the home and cars, why not to a product like firearms that carry such a capacity for catastrophic injury?”
The fact is, there are a huge number of different models of firearms available. All the safety features described in this article are available, on the market, today. If a responsible adult chooses to purchase a firearm without those features and bear the associated risks, it is their choice. Manufacturers should bear liability for their products in the same way as other products — that is, for actual safety flaws. But just as you cannot sue Chrevrolet for making a car capable of tripling the speed limit, you cannot sue the person who made a firearm because one of their customers was stupid or criminal.
“Firearm Defects Take Toll”
What we have here is simply a list of “accidents” that the Detroit News contends could have been prevented by a government regulatory agency. I contend that most could have been prevented by the gun owner following the simple rules of gun safety. Let’s cover them one by one.
The dealer pointed the gun at someone and pulled the trigger, breaking the rules of gun safety.
The child had unsupervised access to a firearm and was playing with it. In the course of his play, he pointed the gun at himself and pulled the trigger. Both the child and his parents broke the rules of gun safety.
This one I’ll grant, although obviously dropping a loaded gun is a little careless. But the market offers many firearms with drop safeties, so the option to purchase one was available to this individual. If you drop a knife on your foot, you will end up with a knife in your foot — sometimes, you just have to be careful not to drop things.
This one is borderline. The gun was not pointed in a safe direction and it sounds like the owner was not exactly familiar with proper firearms operation. It’s hard to say who was at fault without knowing exactly what happened.
Trigger pulled, gun pointed in unsafe direction.
Couple thoughts here. First, the picture in the article depicts an old-west-type revolver rather than a modern design — such a historical design might be expected to lack modern safety features. Second, how do they know the trigger was not pulled? Not deliberately pulled, sure, but any firearm bouncing around on the floorboards of a car could easily snag on something. And bouncing around on the floorboards of a car is not exactly safe gun handling in any case.
Don’t drop your gun if it’s cheap; if you intend to drop your gun, buy one with a drop safety. ’nuff said.
This sounds like a legitimate flaw, though whether it’s a design flaw or something that occurs due to damage in the field is unclear. But note the difference in outcomes! When you follow the rules of gun safety, even if the gun is defective and goes off, no one gets hurt.
“Firearm Patents Addressed Safety”
This article is a simple timeline covering the period from 1908 (chamber-loaded indicator patented) to 1922 (last noted patent, one of 5 dealing with magazine disconnect safeties). What are the most notable parts of this article? Simple: firearms with these safety devices have been around and on the market since 1908.
In some cases (such as the Beretta case in California) those features don’t prevent injuries, and the victims (who broke the rules of gun safety) sue anyway. In others, lawsuits are brought because a manufacturer failed to prevent their customer from behaving irresponsibly with their firearm. It is hard to believe that mandatory safety features are a better answer than training gun owners to handle their firearms safely.
No safety feature is perfectly reliable, but a safe gun owner can keep his gun safely even when those safety features are not present, or fail. Those who depend on safety features to protect them from unsafe behaviors are an accident waiting to happen — just as soon as they can devise a new stupidity to engage in.
“Law Fails to Control Junk Guns”
Once again, we see a call for magazine safeties and chamber-loaded indicators. And yet, guns with both features are readily available on the market. The only reason to have a gun without those features is choice — and the choice to buy a gun that lacks them is a perfectly valid one, as many police departments have proven by their choice of Glock firearms, which lack both safety features by design.
Why has the Detroit News focused so heavily on those features? It might have something to do with the lawsuits being brought against gun manufacturers around the country. Those lawsuits, particularly the one against Beretta in California (which has recently been ruled a mistrial for the second time), focus on obtaining in a settlement the agreement to include those safety features on handguns.
Yet the gun in that very lawsuit already had a chamber loaded indicator. It just “wasn’t large enough”, according to the plaintiffs, who also claimed to have no idea the feature existed. And here, in fact, is where we find the common thread: people who are hurt in firearm accidents are people who either ignored the rules of safe gun handling, or were victims of those who did.
Is a gun which fails to include a magazine disconnect and chamber loaded indicator a “junk gun”? Glock doesn’t think so; neither do their customers. And while many people make fun of the Glock design (“combat tupperware”, for their partially plastic construction), no one would deny that they are a major handgun manufacturer and make a quality product.
But the gun control organizations want you to think they are talking about “junk guns” rather than an optional feature which some guns happen to lack. They illustrate this with the case of Rohm GMBH, a german-based corporation selling firearms. Apparantly, in 1981, they were the fourth largest handgun manufacturer in the US. It’s strange how they have to go back over 20 years to find a suitable example… but it is a good one.
So what we have here is a single individual designing firearms for a company building them as cheaply as possible. The designer doesn’t include a magazine disconnect or a chamber loaded indicator because he doesn’t know about them. That’s not exactly a stellar description of his knowledge of the field, but then he never claimed to be an expert. And since he’s designing cheap firearms to be sold at low prices, he doesn’t need to be — people are free to purchase guns with, or without, whatever safety features they feel appropriate.
If this is the best case they can find, it’s pretty slim. But it follows the same pattern of their other stories; “young child finds gun, thinks it is empty, and shoots a friend.” Would a chamber-loaded indicator have saved a life here? No, because the shooter would not have known to check it. Would a magazine-disconnect safety have saved a life? Perhaps, if it had worked; in a gun this cheaply made that’s not a sure thing.
What would definitely have saved a life would be proper training in gun handling: never point a gun at anything you are unwilling to shoot, and most especially never in adolescent horseplay. But somehow, that is never acknowledged by those clamoring for more gun control. And neither is the fact that firearms accidents are at an all-time low.
So, tell me again how the “law fails to control junk guns”. They spend an entire article talking about guns from a company that has not been in business for nearly 20 years, because consumer safety lawsuits prevented them from operating, and then have the gall to claim that laws don’t work to control “junk guns”?
Well, the 1968 Gun Control Act did not help much in this case. But other laws certainly did. So where’s the beef?
At first glance, this looks to be the same basic issue. An imported, cheap firearm has safety issues; nobody can recall it; lives are being lost because the laws aren’t working!
And yet… that’s not all there is to it.
The guns are cheap, and by now, nearly 60 years old — or older. At that price and that age, malfunctions are hardly unexpected. Since 1994, they cannot be imported (presumably under the Assault Weapons Ban). The originals are made in China by a Chinese company. So, what are the options here? Order a recall, ship the guns back to China for repairs? Assuming the company was willing to repair or redesign firearms that are 60 years old, they would be unable to return them to the US! .
How many people who own SKS rifles — safety issues and all — would be willing to give them up with no compensation for a “recall” that amounted to confiscation? Not many. That renders a recall somewhat impractical at the least.
But maybe the Detroit News would prefer the guns be confiscated. They do seem to have an ulterior motive…
Gee — tell me again how current laws are failing to control “dangerous junk guns”? Consumer safety lawsuits are being filed and apparantly won, where the cases have merit, Consumers have the choice of buying guns with safety features and without; understandably the cheaper models are often those lacking the safety features. That’s not a failure of the market or the law; it’s a reflection of the fact that for some people, a $100 gun they can afford is better than a $600 gun they can’t.
Are we to deny the poor the right to defend themselves? Of course not. But requiring safety features will increase the cost of defensive firearms enough to do just that.
“Technology Exists to Make Guns Safer”
What the Detroit News won’t tell you in this section of their “special report” is that while many guns today are available without the safety features listed here (ie, a manual safety, grip safety, and drop safety), many guns today are available with those features. It’s a choice you make when you buy a firearm: do you purchase a high-quality model with several safety devices, a low-quality model that lacks them, or perhaps a gun whose safety devices are designed in such a way that some of the safety devices on their list don’t make sense?
If you value a gun that will fire each time and every time the trigger is pulled, you might buy a Glock, which has a number of safety devices that accomplish exactly that — but lacks a grip safety or a magazine disconnect. According to the Detroit News, those features should be mandatory, even though the Glock brand is one of the most popular brands for police officers nationwide.
The fact is, there’s more to gun safety than technology. Gun safety starts in the person holding the gun.
Remember, “many” is a very small number when compared to things like bathtubs, bicycles, or cars.
Actually, gun makers haven’t “ignored… safety options”. Where the firearm was at fault, they have issued product recalls, changed the design of their firearms to correct the defects, and even today offer firearms with all the safety devices the Detroit News is so fond of. How that can be construed as “ignoring” I don’t know.
The concept of a “smart gun” that can only be fired by its owner is a reasonable safety option, but not a reasonable safety requirement. Any firearm must make a tradeoff between reliability of operation and safety. Any improvement in safety (ie, making it harder to fire the gun in an unauthorized manner) has a corresponding decrease in reliability (ie, making it harder to fire the gun when intended). Most mechanical safety devices are reliable and simple; they are durable and rarely fail.
No one has yet devised a “smart gun” system that can distinguish between authorized and unauthorized users that even comes close to that level of reliability. This is a concern not only for the traditional reasons to value reliable operation, but because of the nature of firearm use — a firearm that fails to fire at a shooting range or while hunting is a trivial matter, but a firearm that fails to shoot an attacking criminal in your home may cost you your life.
“Smart guns” are pushed for precisely that home defense use. It is believed that a “smart gun” can keep your child or a criminal from firing your handgun, while allowing its use for self-defense against a criminal. But what technology can be used to fit this scenario? The Detroit News covers a number of possibilities. But they all have the same flaws:
- The gun needs batteries. Batteries fail.
- The recognition system can be confused (by misplacing a special object, radio interference, or just dirty hands).
- The keyed object in some designs can be misplaced, or simply not worn, or stored with the gun.
All of these potential problems could be fatal if you are depending on your firearm to stop a criminal. They could be just as fatal if you are depending on them to prevent your gun from firing in unauthorized hands, because (as the other stories in this series have shown), even simple mechanical safety devices can fail. In actual practice, these devices have substantial safety tradeoffs that must be evaluated by the purchaser — including the increased chances for accidental discharge associated with the mechanism that readies the gun to fire.
Some states (New Jersey) have passed laws that pre-emptively ban “non-smart” guns from sale within that state after a gun manufacturer brings out a smart gun to the consumer market. This kind of heavy-handed threat ignores the real safety and reliability concerns of “smart gun” devices in favor of politically-motived regulation. Those safety and reliability concerns were acknowledged, albeit in a backhand way, by exempting the police forces of the state from the ban!
It seems that “smart guns” are not good enough for the police, even if they are good enough to force upon the average citizen. And until a smart gun mechanism is developed that is no less reliable than a standard mechanical firearm, “smart guns” will remain a fantasy.
“Law Would Shield Gun Makers Against Suits”
This editorial, as you can probably guess, is the reason for the whole Special Report; the Detroit News wants to oppose the immunity bill moving through Congress, and they want to make a big splash about it in hopes of actually getting enough attention to stop the bill. They make the claim that the bill will protect gun manufacturers from being sued over the “defects” they have just spent so much space describing. But are they right?
Let’s find out.
As noted earlier, the firearms accidents detailed in this special report can be divided into four categories, with differing levels of responsibility between the gun owner and the manufacturer.
People in this category were shot when a gun was pointed at them and the trigger pulled. The shooter usually believed the gun to be unloaded, but no sane person would describe pointing a loaded gun at someone and pulling the trigger without intending for the gun to fire as an intended use. Either the person intended to shoot, in which case the gun was intended to fire, or the person was engaging in dangerous — even criminally negligent — behavior with a loaded firearm.
The law would rightly protect manufacturers from this sort of suit.
Functioning as Designed
People in this category experienced an accidental discharge when they pulled the trigger on their firearm without intending to. In these cases, the gun was clearly not used as intended — that is, the trigger was pulled without the intent to fire.
The law would rightly protect manufacturers from this sort of suit.
Damaged Mechanisms and Unsafe Handling
Injuries in this category occurred due to a combination of factors. Usually, the firing mechanism of the gun needed to be worn or damaged (rather than new); the damaged mechanism would then become unsafe when the firearm was used as intended. Proper gun handling would have prevented the injuries, but still allowed an accidental discharge due to the faulty mechanism.
This category would not be prevented absolutely by the law, because the accidental discharge could occur when the gun was used as intended, although not on a new (undamaged) firearm. The outcome of each case would likely rest on what sort of damage to the firing mechanism was necessary to induce a risk of accidental discharge, and whether the damage was reasonably foreseeable or part of normal wear on the mechanism.
Cases in this category involve people who dropped loaded firearms and had those firearms go off. The law would offer no special protection here, as a dropped firearm is clearly “reasonably foreseeable”; cases would likely hinge on whether the individual was handling the firearm safely, or whether they were taking risks that increased the chances of dropping the firearm.
So, would the industry be protected from valid lawsuits concerning firearms safety defects? Evidently not. But it would be protected from lawsuits involving criminally negligent behavior by the gun owner or an unauthorized user. And that, I think, is a good thing.
What the Detroit News won’t tell you is that the Consumer Product Safety Commission can’t regulate firearms for the same reason it can’t regulate tobacco – both products are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Firearms are already highly regulated in their design and manufacture by that agency and directly by federal law.
Under the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, even this amount of regulation is questionable. Putting firearms under the authority of the Consumer Safety Commission would only make it easier for proponents of gun control to achieve their desire — that is, banning firearms — without even a vote in Congress, simply lobbying a federal bureaocrat.
Of course the CDC insists that its work never advocated gun control. And yet the work that it funded was so dramatically one-sided and sloppy that no other conclusion could reasonably be drawn. Since the funding was removed, it’s interesting to note that while the CDC continues to engage in firearms-related research, the conclusions have changed dramatically. Their most recent research — a “state of the field” survey of gun control laws — found absolutely no evidence that any gun control laws had any effect whatsoever on gun safety or crime.
And yet, they asked for more money so they could keep looking. Is it any wonder that Congress doesn’t want to throw good money after bad?
I confess to being absolutely flabbergasted that the above quote is all the Detroit News has to say about Arthur Kellerman’s research. His studies have been repeatedly discreditted and Kellerman himself has admitted that many of them were irrepairably flawed.
Gun Safety Tips
The most useful aspect of this portion of their “special report” is to compare it with the victims they feature in their other stories. How many of those victims were following these rules? The answer might surprise you. The incidents can be grouped into four categories:
- People who removed the magazine from a handgun and, thinking it was unloaded, pointed the gun at someone and pulled the trigger.
- People who experienced an accidental discharge due to the gun functioning as designed, and were injured because the gun was not pointed in a safe direction while loaded.
- People who experienced an accidental discharge due to a flaw in the firing mechanism, without pulling the trigger, and were injured because the gun was not pointed in a safe direction while loaded.
- People whose firearm discharged when it was dropped.
The first two categories are clearly cases of negligent or simply unsafe gun handling. The third set of cases involve a mixture of fault; clearly, an accidental discharge that occurs without pulling the trigger is a problem. But following the rules of gun safety they lay out in this portion of their article is sufficient to prevent injury, so the gun owner must also bear some responsibility. Notably, most of the cases they present that fit this category are cases where appropriate corrections or recalls have already been made, and additionally cases where the fault occurs after damage to the mechanism rather than as an inherent flaw.
The last category is the only clear case with real fault in the manufacturing process. And yet, dropping a loaded gun is certainly a careless action. I have little sympathy for those who are injured as a result — the obvious solution is “Don’t drop a loaded gun”. This should be simple common sense. Yet by the same token, a dropped gun should not fire, as a common-sense safety measure by manufacturers.
It’s interesting that this last category is occupied entirely by “cheap” guns, rather than well-made firearms from reputable manufacturers. Why? Because reputable manufacturers make guns that do not fire when dropped already. The consumer has a choice.