Common sense gun safety laws

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Noah’s death, like thousands of other American children’s deaths, didn’t have to happen. It could very easily have been prevented with common sense gun safety and safe gun storage laws and practices by gun owners. Three years ago, 134 children and teenagers died from accidental shootings, and more than 3,000 others suffered accidental gun injuries. Many of the accidental gun victims and shooters are younger than Levi and Noah. They include children like 3-year-old Darrien Nez, who died in Arizona on April 29 after shooting himself in the face with a gun he found while playing with his grandmother’s bag. Or 2-year-old Caroline Sparks, who was killed at her Kentucky home on April 30 by her 5-year-old brother with a rifle he had been given as a birthday gift. Or 2-year-old Sincere Tymere Smith, whose pastor and grandmother told MSNBC he was known for being inseparable from his father, but who died after shooting himself in the chest with his father’s gun on Christmas night. When adults choose to own guns adults must take responsibility for keeping their guns locked up and out of the hands of children.

Many Americans are surprised when they learn how simple many guns are for even toddlers to fire and that the same 2-year-old who can’t open a childproof medicine bottle might be able to pull a trigger and shoot herself or someone else. In fact, a 1976 amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Act that the National Rifle Association advocated for specifically forbids the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from regulating the sale and manufacture of guns, despite the fact that they are one of the most lethal consumer products killing more than 30,000 people a year and injuring 72,000 others. As a result, the CPSC can regulate teddy bears and toy guns but not real guns—even though common sense design changes and safety mechanisms such as trigger locks can save lives. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have acted to fill this void, passing laws requiring locking devices on some or all firearms. But that means that in 39 states, there is no such requirement.

Another common sense answer is child access prevention laws, which require gun owners to store their guns so that children and teens can’t access them unsupervised. Studies have found these laws reduce accidental shootings of children by as much as 23 percent. But only 14 states currently have such laws and support of stronger child access prevention laws is often drowned out by the same loud voices of the gun lobby that fight background checks and other common sense gun safety measures.

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