Trigger Locks: Why Women (and the men who love them) Should Oppose This “Common Sense” Safety Measure

Imagine you’re a woman living alone and a strange man awakens you in the middle of the night. The man orders you around your home in a search for money, and as you go from room to room you can see that the intruder has already ransacked your house. Once the search is complete, the man takes you back to your bedroom, removes your pajama bottoms and prepares to rape you. You tell the man that you know where to find more money. In his greed, the man lets you lead him to a closet where you retrieve a handgun. You turn the gun on the would-be rapist and fire.

Michigan resident Alberta Nicles doesn’t have to imagine such a nightmare because at the age of 81, she lived it.

Imagine you’re a woman, alone in your Florida home, when you are suddenly confronted by a man who has broken in through a sliding glass door. The man is wearing a mask and gloves. In his hand he carries a knife. The crook demands money and jewelry and you comply. He then begins to beat you in the face. You struggle to defend yourself and eventually manage to get your hands on the pistol you keep in the bedroom. You fire, ending the ordeal.

Like Alberta, Sammie Foust, 49 at the time, doesn’t have to imagine. She lived it.

Imagine you’re a young University of Virginia graduate student. As you leave your apartment, a man grabs you from behind and a struggle ensues as you try to break free. Finally, the two of you fall back into your apartment and you seize the opportunity to escape his hold. You run to your bedroom and grab your revolver. As you return to the living room, you aim the weapon at the attacker and order him to leave. He does.

Like Alberta and Sammie, Brenda Jones doesn’t have to imagine. She lived it.

Now… imagine that each of those weapons had a trigger lock.

Imagine the tragedy of finding an 81-year-old woman, raped and possibly murdered, with her only means of effective self-defense locked and useless on a closet shelf. Imagine finding Sammie, battered and beaten, if not worse, with a totally useless weapon within reach; useless because the trigger was locked and there was no opportunity to unlock it. Imagine what could have happened to Brenda if the attacker had seen a trigger lock on her gun and realized it was no threat to him.

Trigger locks are promoted as a device designed to save lives. Gun control organizations and anti-gun politicians and activists insist they are “common sense” measures to reduce accidental gun deaths. Al Gore promises to enact legislation requiring trigger locks if he is elected, and George W. Bush is already distributing them free in Texas. Congress has jumped on the bandwagon by introducing numerous bills calling for mandatory trigger locks as well as other measures designed to “save lives”.

Locking Up Your Safety (the term used by Gun Owners of America) may reduce accidental deaths, but what will the measure do to people like Alberta, Sammie and Brenda.

Studies indicate that American women use guns to protect themselves from sexual assault as many as 561 times a day. Or, put another way: Approximately every 2 1/2 minutes a woman in the United States uses a gun to protect herself from sexual assault. One can safely assume that in some cases, potential victims had, or would have had, time to unlock a trigger lock, if necessary. And gun control activists often state that if you are in danger, just unlock your gun and protect yourself.

However, Alberta, Sammie and Brenda prove that a sudden, unexpected attack prevents any likelihood that a victim will be able to use a locked gun for protection. None of these women had time to unlock a trigger lock. One can only speculate as to what would have happened to them, and thousands of others like them, if their guns had trigger locks.

It is estimated that at least 17 million women in the United States own firearms. Requiring trigger locks on those weapons will make these women easier targets for rape, robbery, assault and murder. Criminals won’t have to fear entering a woman’s home as long as he ensures his attack is sudden and unexpected, allowing no time to unlock a gun. Seventeen million women will lose their best means of effective self-defense.

Trigger locks may prevent accidental gun injury and death. But at what cost? How many women will be assaulted or murdered because state and federal laws required them to lock up their safety? How many of those 561 women each day will suffer sexual assault because their guns had trigger locks? How many women will suffer criminal prosecution because they chose not to lock up their safety, and ultimately used the gun in successful self-defense? Are we willing to place women in a position of choosing between vulnerability to predators or compliance with the law?

Perhaps you could ask Alberta or Sammie or Brenda which they would choose. But, you already know the answer.