Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cribs=yes; Guns=no

Every year, the average number of children and teens who die by a bullet is about 8 per day. According to the this "tutorial" by the The Internet Pathology Laboratory for Medical Education- Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah (Georgia) and the University of Utah Eccles Health Sciences Library:Child safety is an important issue. Firearms injuries are the second leading cause of non natural death in childhood and adolescence." Everyone who reads this blog knows that I am all about doing something about reducing this number.

I am also all about reducing deaths of children due to just about anything. I am not blogging about all of those things, but I support recalls, product inspections and safety regulations. The latest of these is a recall of cribs with drop down sides. Good for the Consumer Product Safety Commission for looking out for our children. My youngest grandchild is still in a crib. This is important to me and my family. 32 infants have died due to crib defects since 2001. For each of those families, it must have been a horrendous loss. I can't imagine what that would feel like.

In that same time since 2001, about 29,000 children have died from a gun injury. Now it is not a fair comparison since very few infants die from gun injuries. There was, though, a recent local shooting of a pregnant woman and her very young child (around 2 years). But that is not my point on this blog. My point is that there are product recalls and the press makes a big deal out of these recalls, especially when products have lead to the death or injuries of children. But gun deaths, not so much. 32 people a day die from gun homicides, excluding the accidental shootings and suicides ( often by children and teens). Do we see a big fuss in the news about this? No. Why? Guns are among the very few products not regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Why? That is a great question. I'm glad you asked. I found a 53 page document from the Consumer Product Safety Commission with standards for hazardous materials in toys and including caps and toy guns "producing impulse type sound." When typing in the word handgun or guns on the CPSC website, nothing comes up. That is because we have "chosen" not to regulate guns just as we regulate other products for safety. So cribs can be recalled, caps and certain toy guns can be recalled but not real guns.

Does anybody remember when the media spent weeks on tainted spinach and dog food? The E-coli outbreak after a California company sent tainted spinach to businesses and restaurants killed one person and sickened 108 in 2006. The dog food was imported from China and contained contaminants that killed 14 dogs in 2007. 

I wonder who would be responsible if a handgun or hunting rifle misfired because of a product defect? The U.S. Congress also, of course, passed the Gun Industry Immunity Bill in 2005. An article written by the Legal Community Against Violence about the act that gave immunity to the gun industry also addresses consumer safety and guns: " Thanks to the unparalleled political power of the gun lobby, the Consumer Product Safety Act, adopted in 1972, exempts guns and ammunition.  (The Gun Control Act of 1968 gave the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives broad authority to block the importation of firearms and the agency has used that authority to keep defectively designed foreign weapons out of the country.  Ironically, no federal agency has similar authority with respect to domestically manufactured firearms.)"

Disparities abound when it comes to any common sense policies and practices concerning guns. Because of the influence of the gun lobby, guns are the only product sold in our country not regulated by the CPSC. Because of the influence of the gun lobby, few, if any, lawsuits can be filed against gun manufacturers or dealers for defective products or for faulty business practices. We should be very happy that we have a government agency in charge of keeping us safe from defective products and to monitor businesses for unsafe practices that could result in injury or death to American citizens. The fact that guns are exempt should concern a lot more people than it currently does. Most people don't know about this flaw in U.S. public safety. Many of these issues have "flown under the radar" so our elected leaders have not been held accountable for their lack of responsibility. It's time for that to change.


  1. Civil liability is appropriate if a product doesn't perform as advertised and injures or kills the user, and I wouldn't defend a gun manufacturer who knowingly sold a firearm that would explode when fired or that had a safety that didn't adequately prevent the gun from discharging unintentionally. What isn't appropriate is your side's use of civil suits to sue the firearms industry into bankruptcy. By claiming that the gun industry was responsible for the criminal misuse of its products, for the hospital bills of gunshot victims or for their products being a "public nuisance," your side attempted to end-run the legislature and Constitution where you had been stymied. It makes as much sense as, and is as legal as, the victim of a drunk driver trying to sue General Motors or Budweiser, which is to say not at all.

  2. That's total nonsense. Give me some facts.

  3. Facts are in the PDF you linked about the Gun Industry Immunity Bill in 2005. It points out a few different cases that would have been given immunity for cases in which the manufacturer would have been tried for the criminal use of firearms. That bill did not give immunity to a manufacturer for a DEFECT in it's product, which is what you are talking about with the cribs.

    Here is a statement by Senator Feinstein who was against this bill, in 2004 for exactly that reason.


    And I quote,
    "I think we have to recognize that guns in America are responsible for the deaths of 30,000 Americans a year. The question comes whether we should be giving the gun industry sweeping and unprecedented protection from the type of lawsuits that are available to every other victim involving every other industry in America."

    Not once does he comment that the gun is defective. It works as advertised. We all KNOW that the 30,000 a year number has nothing to do with defective guns. We've been over what those numbers pertain to ad nauseam. Opponents of that law were upset because victims of gun crimes could not sue the manufacture for producing the weapon. If lawsuits like that are allowed, we should also be able to sue alcohol manufacturers and automotive manufacturers for all drunk driving deaths. That is not total nonsense.

  4. The list of items exempted by the Consumer Products Safety Act are numerous, and firearms are only one of many exceptions. Other such exceptions are automobiles, tobacco products, aircraft, aircraft engines, boats, pharmaceuticals, all food products, medical devices, cosmetics, certain hazardous substances like pesticides, explosives, and any amusement or ride which is not permanently affixed to a site.

    So why all the exceptions? Because all these things have other regulators. For firearms and explosives, the regulator is ATF. For cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices it's the FDA. Obviously planes are regulated by FAA. In fact, it's fairly common for objects which have some inherent danger to them to have separate regulators who specialize in those products.

    "I wonder who would be responsible if a handgun or hunting rifle misfired because of a product defect?"

    The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act specifically exempts lawsuits based on negligence on the part of manufacturers, so the manufacturers are liable in a situation such as this. LCAV is misstating the nature of ATF's power on the matter of importation. ATF has no power to recall guns, and we're not going to give them that power because it would be guaranteed to be abused by an administration hostile to gun rights. Massachusetts has such a system as you seem to be advocating, and as a result has chosen to ban the Glock in Massachusetts as "unsafe," even though it's currently the most common side arm used by law enforcement. It's a can of worms we're not going to let you guys open, sorry.

  5. Facts?

    Its simple negligence. Firearms manufacturers can't be held accountable for the criminal misuse of their product if they make a good faith effort to produce a quality product. If the manufacturer is deliberately negligent by utilizing metal of an inferior quality, or barrels that aren't straight, etc...and that negligence directly contributes to an injury of someone utilizing the firearm in a legitimate fashion -- then negligence can be applied.

    To make a graphic point: Would Dewalt tool company held accountable for a mass murderer using a Dewalt saw to cut apart his victims? Is Honda held accountable if someone decides to "take out" a significant other by running them over?

    A gangbanger shooting a young woman on the street is NOT following the manufacturer's recommended usage. Just to make sure, I read the instruction manual that came with one of my firearms. Nowhere does it recommend shooting people. IN fact, it mentions no fewer than 18 times to make sure you follow the Rules of Gun Safety (muzzle in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, no horseplay, etc).

    No. A manufacturer is not responsible for injuries resulting from the misuse of their product. You lost on this one awhile ago -- move on.

  6. Actually, according to the official CPSC website, there are many items they don't regulate:

    Q. Does CPSC have jurisdiction over all consumer products?
    A. No. We have jurisdiction over more than 15,000 kinds of consumer products used in and around the home, in sports, recreation and schools. But we don't have jurisdiction over some categories of products. They include automobiles and other on-road vehicles, tires, boats, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, food, drugs, cosmetics, pesticides, and medical devices. Our web site has links to the sites of the federal agencies that do.

    So ATF is the regulatory agency for firearms, not the CSPC. Just like Food and Drug handles food and drugs.

    But the problem is ... while nothing in the industry protective law passed by congress stops people from suing a manufacturer for a defective product, a firearm that shoots a bullet out is not defective. Declaring it defective and making manufacturer's change that aspect would make it not be a firearm any longer.

    As to making firearms safer for children ...

    People should be held responsible for their actions, their children, and the firearms in their possession. I think you'll find MOST people on my side agree with that. But as far as I know that's already the case.

    I think we already know about the limits on gun regulations, and have rejected greater regulation because we've seen where that will go. Already the ATF is using the limited authority they do have to keep a lot of fine firearms out of the country for arbitrary reasons -- the whole "sporting uses" bit. And it's not like we can't already buy equivalents to those firearms; they'just re doing everything they can to limit firearms coming into the country regardless of if it will make any difference or not. And we'll not give them any more power to take arbitrary actions like that.

  7. First, there are a great many products for which the safety standards are not regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.


    Second, as soon as the CSPC was formed, it was seized upon by Handgun Control, Inc. as a tool by which they could eliminate firearms. It was because of this that Congress explicitly removed firearms and ammunition from the CPSC's purview, in 1976.

    Thirdly, firearms are hardly unregulated. In fact, they are the most regulated product available for civilian purchase. There is no other product that requires individual approval by the government for every retail purchase.

    And fourthly, safety standards for firearms, in the US, are set by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute - an ANSI standards organization. SAAMI has been around since 1926, and they have a far better understanding of what is and what is not safe than the CPSC.

  8. Have there been any recalls of guns( for defective mechanisms, etc.) by the ATF? I don't think the ATF deals with defects in products. The cases mentioned by LCAV are related to business practices. All kinds of products are recalled in our country and the point of the post is to say that the general public, the media and elected leaders get upset about defective products or business practices that cause sickness, injury or death. But we just don't do the same for guns because that is not necessarily the job of the ATF. Yes, they monitor some gun dealers but as the articles linked in my previous posts, they don't have the staff to get to all the dealers. They don't do much with manufacturers.

  9. "They don't do much with manufacturers" that you want them to, which is to regulate them out of existence. Like everyone here has said, there's a huge difference between holding a gun maker liable for a defective product, and holding them liable for the criminal misuse of their products by others. That doesn't withstand legal scrutiny anywhere else in the business world, and we won't stand by and let the Brady Campaign et al. attempt to unfairly single out the firearm manufacturers as some kind of special exception 'cause they make teh ebil guns.

  10. They don't do much with manufacturers? That's certainly going to be news to manufacturers! They require FFLs, are subject to inspection by ATF just as dealers are. They are required to comply with trace requests as well.

    Additionally, ATF regulates the design of firearms. There are lots of regulations concerning what parts you can and can't use, how you can and can't design firearms. Unsure manufacturers will typically submit designs to ATF for determination.

    Manufacturers are just as regulated if not more regulated than a dealer FFL.

  11. "Have there been any recalls of guns"

    My Glock has an active recall out against it. I never bothered to send it back because it's a rare defect, and it doesn't stop the gun from running if it happens. It's also no a safety related recall. So yeah, the manufacturers do recalls, including safety recalls. You'd also be surprised how many safety recalls are related to stupid "safety" features required by certain states, such as Ruger's chamber loaded flag that caused rounds to go off if you'd dropped the gun on the flag.

    ATF has no power to issue recalls, and for obvious reasons we're not going to agree to give them that power. Existing tort law is fine for sorting out negligence and defect in manufacture and design. Most of the "safety" features required by the states where gun control advocates have sway are either science fiction (smart guns) or are not actually safety features (chamber flags, magazine disconnects, etc)

    You can't make safe guns. You can only make safe shooters.

  12. But they are a special exception because of the lack of regulation and the immunity from law suits. No one wants to regulate out of business. That's nonsensical talk. They should be regulated just like any other business. That's all this is about. You can make up all kinds of things to say about motives but you would be wrong. Manufacturers of other industries must be regulated and help responsible. That's all this about. Juries and judges can determine if a suit is irresponsible or not or whether a dealer or manufacturer is not doing their job. Wow- you guys sure get all hot about this one. What's that all about?

  13. What special exemptions? It's been pointed out that just because it's exempted from CPSC doesn't mean it's unregulated, any more than cars, airplanes and pharmaceuticals are.

    What's exactly is unregulated? Manufacturers are regulated. Distributors are regulated. Importers are regulated. Dealers are regulated. All must hold licenses issued by the federal government, as a condition must comply with federal regulations and federal law, and are subject to federal inspections. What unregulated about that?

  14. japete --

    Can you provide some specific examples of the kind of consumer product safety regulations that firearms aren't subject to, but that you think they should be?

    The reason I ask is because it's a little hard to engage with you when you're making very general statements about how "firearms should be regulated just like any other business." I'd like to know what you perceive as the gaps in consumer product safety regulation as pertains firearms, and why you think normal product liability litigation isn't adequate to fill those gaps.

  15. Sebastian- " The mission of the Firearms Technology Branch is to serve as ATF’s technical authority relating to firearms and their classification under Federal laws, to respond to law enforcement agencies requests to test, evaluate, and provide expert testimony on firearms and ammunition, and to provide technical services to the firearms industry and other members of the public.

    FTB support to the firearms industry and general public includes the following areas:

    Responses to technical inquiries.
    Testing and classification of products submitted.
    Curio & relic (C&R) determinations (see C&R page prior to submitting a C&R inquiry).
    Import evaluations." from the ATF website.

    I am talking more about safety standards as are required by other products. This website says what I am talking about:http://www.abanet.org/gunviol/docs/RegulationofFirearmsasConsumerProducts.pdf

    "Yet, unlike other consumer
    products, there is no federal law or regulatory authority to set minimum safety standards
    for domestically manufactured firearms. Why? Because the gun lobby was able to gain an
    exemption for firearms from the 1972-enacted federal Consumer Product Safety Act, the
    primary federal law that protects consumers from products which present unreasonable
    risk of injury." Yes, yes, I know you hate this website because it is lawyers and you are sure they are out to get the gun industry.

    Also this article:http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consumerawareness/a/badguns.htm "Would you be surprised to learn that, unlike almost every other consumer product, firearms and ammunition manufactured in the U.S. are not subject to any federal health and consumer safety oversight? Fact is, no federal agency has the necessary authority to ensure that poorly made guns don't explode or unintentionally discharge when they are dropped or bumped."

  16. japete --

    Incidentally, the CPSC lacks jurisdiction over a number of consumer products, not just firearms. So it's simply false that guns are the only consumer product not regulated by the CPSC.

    Similarly, manufacturers do not enjoy "immunity from lawsuits," full stop. They enjoy a qualified immunity from certain negligence claims related to a third party's criminal misuse of a firearm. It's simply false that manufacturers cannot be sued over product defects or "faulty business practices."

  17. Well Japete ... remember the Clinton administration "agreement" with Smith and Wesson, which S&W entered into to avoid lawsuits, whereby they entered in a contract enforceable by law which basically put into place the majority of the gun control rules the Brady Campaign is fighting for? What are the chances, if we allow unlimited law suits and all this consumer regulation that you want, that the Brady Campaign will try that again with all the gun companies? I'm guessing 100%.

    And what guns we will be allowed to buy will have a pound of "safety" devices on them that will make the unusable for personal defense or concealed carry.

    There were a lot of crazy law suits against gun companies by cities that blamed the manufacturers for violence in their cities (which is EXACTLY like suing Seagrams for drunk driving accidents) ... and while you may have liked those for obvious reasons, they were offensive to most Americans. And particularly to the pro-gun crowd.

    But in any case ... if you want an agency to be able to do recalls ... just like the CPSC doesn't do recalls on food and drugs (that's the Food and Drug administration) they wouldn't do recalls on guns. That would be the ATF.

    So if anything, you need to fight for an ability of the ATF to do recalls.

    But for all the reasons above, the answer from the NRA (which is me and several million close friends) is NO. We've seen what that will lead to. And thankfully, for at least the next few years, we have the political power and votes to make that "NO" stick.

  18. Brett- that would be in my comment, above.

  19. Does anyone have any statistics for the number of deaths that were caused by defective or unsafe guns? In all my research, I can only find one case with a Remington 700 rifle, and even in that case I'm still not certain that the gun is defective.

    In the absence of that information, I have to conclude that the overwhelming majority of negligent discharges were caused by the willful decisions and actions of the person who pulled the trigger. That indicates violations of at least two of the four elementary rules of gun safety, improper gun storage, inadequate education of minors (like the Eddie Eagle Program), and other issues that are separate from the actual gun itself.

    Education and training would save significantly more lives than allowing the CSPC to regulate guns.

  20. How are firearms failing in unsafe ways at a rate greater than other consumer products? Considering the number of guns in service, the accident rate is very low--and few of these accidents are equipment failures.

    When you ask to regulate guns, we see California's 'safe gun list'. The testing is expensive, and if memory serves me correctly, requires 3 guns to be destroyed in order to approve a model. Only the manufacturer or importer can submit for testing--meaning that the gun the Supreme Court demanded that Heller be allowed to posses can't be sold in California, because the manufacturer is out of business. If a manufacturer declines to renew, formerly 'safe' guns can no longer be sold. Trivial differences require a new round of testing--A stainless steel slide can't be sold under the blued steel gun's tests, a gun that is mechanically identical except for a different barrel or grip length needs its own tests. Guns that fail to fire when not cleaned fail.

    Much of the process is far more difficult and expensive than it needs to be to merely ensure that the guns meet California standards--it is obvious that an unstated goal is to make gun ownership itself more difficult.

    I could be wrong on a few details, but not the overall picture. Since I can't tell which comments trigger moderation I'm not going to take the time to look up the specifics, but they are easily available on line.

  21. Japete - It is nice that you share with us what others have to say but none of them share specific events that show that firearms were defective from the way they were manufactured. Your post would have us believe that firearm manufacturers are unregulated and that has led to manufacturing defects which have hurt, maimed or killed others. Please show us the incidents for which someone was hurt because a gun manufacturer defectively made their firearm.

  22. FTB's relationship with the manufacturers is basically to help them remain compliant with federal law, and determine what legal classification a certain firearm fits into. It's not as cut and dry as one might think, especially given the regulations on machine guns and their parts. For instance, open bolt designs are generally classified as machine guns even if they only shoot semi-automatically. That basically restricts them to law enforcement and governmental use only.

    I think where most of us are kind of confused is how consumer product safety is supposed to work on a product that is dangerous by the nature of what it does. You can't have a gun that is "safe" and is useful at doing what people want them for. I suppose this is a hot issue with us just because of the absurdity of it. It's not like a crib, which is supposed to be used for keeping babies and toddlers safe while they sleep. Guns are designed to be dangerous. That is their core function. Knives are similar. How do you make a safe knife? It has to be dangerous to serve its function.

  23. That's a really interesting observation, Sebastian. It's one that I have not heard someone on your side mention before. This is definitely something for further reflection.

  24. Modern guns have multiple safeties. Integrated trigger safety, firing pin safety, drop safety, grip safety, manual safety, Integrated locking systems, titanium firing pins, and more. Safe guns are also made of high quality materials so they won't detonate in the operator's hand unexpectedly. One could argue that a gun without any of these could be considered unsafe even if it was designed to kill. A safe gun is a gun that will only destroy what the operator intends for it to destroy. Most, if not all, reputable modern manufacturer employ one or more of the above safeties.

    However the most important safety is for the operator to always obey the four rules of gun safety which were redundantly designed so that you can't hurt anyone you don't intend to hurt even if all of the safeties on the gun failed. The exception to this statement is the risk of hurting yourself if you're using an old gun with modern loads, a cheap gun made of substandard materials, or you operate the gun incorrectly.

    The four rules of gun safety should be obeyed in the same way that you obey the rule of not sticking your hand into the whirling blade of a table saw.

    If you follow the four rules, which are themselves redundant and don't rely on any mechanical safeties, and you use a gun that has one or more safeties any one of which is already redundant to the redundant four rules, then it becomes impossible to injure or kill anything that you don't intend to injure or kill.

    That's why overwhelmingly the fault lies in the operator for failing to obey one or more of the four rules, and not in the gun itself. I have yet to find a negligent discharge incident that wasn't a result of a violation of one or more of the four rules. So education and training is significantly more important than anything you could do to the gun itself as long as the gun is solid enough not to blow up in your hand.

    In other words, you can build a gun with 100 safety features, and still easily kill the wrong person after violating one or more of the four rules.

  25. Migo- your last sentence is why we need to be concerned. As Sebastian stated, guns are dangerous and designed to kill. Not all people follow the 4 rules of gun safety. That is a very large problem leading to loss of life. As to whether we could build more safety features, I believe it could be done. If we had those safety standards on the front end through the consumer product safety commission, things might be different.

  26. One of my readers made this comment: " What I picked up on was what japete quoted in the post:

    "Child safety is an important issue. Firearms injuries are the second leading cause of non natural death in childhood and adolescence."

    I wish I had a nickel for every time one of the pro-gun guys tried to downplay the numbers. Cars and swimming pools are more dangerous, they say. Accidents will happen, nothing can be done about that. It's not the gun's fault.

    Sometimes they play the statistics game, you know dividing the number of child gun deaths by the total number of guns. They love to come up with that old .000 something percentage."

  27. "Child safety is an important issue."

    You're against teaching gun safety to children in schools.... You've said it's too controversial.

    How can you insist that child safety is so important, yet downplay the importance of education on gun safety?

    What would your solution be to minimize child deaths?

  28. "Cars and swimming pools are more dangerous, they say."

    Accidental drownings are higher among younger children, and decline as kids get older. Accidental shootings increase.


    Because we teach our kids how to swim.

  29. Why are the police normally exempt from mandated 'safety features' such as 'smart gun' technology?

  30. I said they were dangerous. Whether they are used to kill is up to the person wielding it. Indeed there are many firearms that aren't designed to be weapons. A quality kitchen knife is dangerous, and could be used to kill, but it's not designed to be a weapon.

    Either way, the core function here is that when you pull the trigger, it fires a projectile. If it does that, it's functioning as it should. Any greater interferes with that purpose. Plus some of these "safety" features advocatied by gun control advocates actually make the gun more dangerous.

  31. Joan,

    In Dallas a 3 year old toddler died because the family didn't watch him close enough and he got his hands on a deadly product.

    Should we restrict everyone's rights to that deadly product because of this tragedy?

    Should we require everyone to lock up this deadly product because of the negligence of one family?

  32. Rob- keep those guns locked up and away from kids. That's an adult responsibility. jedge- that's not why drownings go down and gun deaths go up. It may be why drownings go down but as kids get older, they can find those guns and teen-agers know exactly where they are. Gun suicides and homicides increase as kids become teens. Keep those guns locked up away from kids. It's an adult's responsibility. Thirdpower- I have no idea. Is that the truth? Can you provide some facts? Sebastian- really? safety features would make guns more dangerous? Hmmm. Anon- No, that is not what I am saying and I'm pretty sure you know that. Maybe to the 2nd question. Doesn't that make sense? It is not just one family. It is many every year. One family? I just provided one example. I have been providing numerous examples in this blog.

  33. "As Sebastian stated, guns are dangerous and designed to kill."

    Come now Japete...that's not what he said at all. What he said was that "Guns are designed to be dangerous. That is their core function."

    To be dangerous...not to KILL. Remember...Words Mean Things, and when you (deliberately?) misquote people into speaking your pet catchphrases, it does nothing but harm your own credibility.

    Throwing rocks is a dangerous activity, and if you really want to break it down to the basics, a firearm is simply a machine designed to throw a really small rock, really, really fast with a relatively high degree of accuracy.

    To take your logical assertion of claiming a 'safety defect' due to the inherent danger of using such a device to the (admittedly) logical extreme, then one could argue for a 'safety regulation and recall' of rocks...or more accurately a simple sling (think David v. Goliath) since the rock would simply be the 'bullet'.

    It is, quite simply, a logical fallacy to blame an object for the user's actions.

  34. Words: "
    "As Sebastian stated, guns are dangerous and designed to kill."

    Come now Japete...that's not what he said at all. What he said was that "Guns are designed to be dangerous. That is their core function."" I am wondering what the difference is here?

  35. Rob makes a great point. You say 'Everyone who reads this blog knows that I am all about doing something about reducing this number'. But you aren't. Teaching gun safety to children would likely reduce accidental shootings. But it may also create more responsible gun owners later in life. Do you hate gun ownership so much that you are willing to overlook the many positive aspects of teaching children gun safety?

  36. Joan,

    Anon- No, that is not what I am saying and I'm pretty sure you know that. Maybe to the 2nd question. Doesn't that make sense? It is not just one family. It is many every year. One family? I just provided one example. I have been providing numerous examples in this blog.

    The toddler I talked about died because he drank lighter fluid used in a tiki torch.

    According to CDC Wisqars, in 2007, 398 children (real children 1 to 17) dead from accidental poisoning.

    In the same year, the same age group; 112 children died from firearm related accidents.

    3 and a half times more children died of poisoning then firearm.

    And the problem in most cases was the same as what happened in Dallas -- parental negligence.

    If people shouldn't loose their rights, if people shouldn't be required to lock up poisons because of one death -- why does it make sense to single out firearms for such special attention?

    Isn't it common sense to focus on the people and not the deadly product?

  37. We protect our children from harm. Making them wear seat belts in the car, making sure they're monitored around the stove, making sure they're monitored in the tub. No responsible firearm owner would ever leave a loaded firearm anywhere an irresponsible child could get ahold of it. To do otherwise is a chargeable offense(s) (reckless endangerment, criminal negligence).

    My children have been taught firearm safety from the time they were old enough to talk. If they see a gun at a friend's house, they're not to touch it, and to go find an adult immediately. At my own house its a moot point since mine are safely stored out of the way of their inquisitive friends.

    I'm removed the "secret" factor from firearms for my children. They're allowed to touch them, handle them and shoot them in my presence anytime they want to -- all under direct adult supervision.

    They're also taught that a firearm is a tool, nothing more, nothing less...just like a hammer, it needs to be used properly. They're also being taught that there are those out there who would use tools inappropriately (and those who vilify tools inappropriately as well).

    I protect and look out for the younger ones amoung us -- and I'm encouraging the next generation of responsible firearms owners as well. I'll get back with you in 10 years as to the success of my venture, but I'm fairly certain things will turn out well!

  38. Yes, I am, actuall. I am not against teaching children about gun safety. You must have missed something. It shouldn't be a part of the school day. That is an after school activity for those who wish to take a class. And to your last question, No.

  39. Anon- that is patently false. More children die from firearms than almost any other cause of death on WISQARS. I don't know which report you were looking at.

  40. Firearms are machines designed to perform a specific function: accelerate a projectile in a specified direction. In a handgun that projectile is really small and really really fast. As a result of that speed it carries a rather high degree of destructive energy for it's size.

    Most folks with even the slightest modicum of common sense would understand the inherent danger in such a device...just as they would understand the inherent danger in say, a chainsaw.

    I seriously doubt that anyone would argue a chainsaw is 'designed to kill' despite the fact that using one is inherently dangerous and could, quite effectively, do so.

    To break it down even more simply: When performing it's INTENDED function, a Guillotine is DESIGNED to kill. A firearm is not. A firearm CAN be used to kill while performing it's intended function (expelling a projectile, etc., etc.) but such is not it's DESIGN function.

    That, dear readers is the difference.

  41. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/Death_by_Age_2007-a.pdf- Ten leading causes of death by age category in 2007. The raw numbers are there for all to see.

    http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/Violence_2007-a.pdf- 10 leading causes of violence related deaths by age category-check out homicides and suicides by firearm- the numbers are far greater than those reported by Anon- above.

  42. Sebastian in his own words: " Guns are designed to be dangerous. That is their core function. Knives are similar. How do you make a safe knife? It has to be dangerous to serve its function." Guns are designed to be dangerous. Knives are designed to be dangerous? No, knives have a useful function in the kitchen and for utility. They are not considered inherently to be weapons. They can be. Guns are in the category of weapons- not machines or tools. You guys are grasping again and twisting yourselves into pretzels about this one.

  43. Words and dear reader- that's a pretty slim defense- " To break it down even more simply: When performing it's INTENDED function, a Guillotine is DESIGNED to kill. A firearm is not. A firearm CAN be used to kill while performing it's intended function (expelling a projectile, etc., etc.) but such is not it's DESIGN function." Aside from recreational shooting at targets, what else do you use a gun for except to kill an animal or a person?

  44. "Yes, I am, actuall. I am not against teaching children about gun safety. You must have missed something. It shouldn't be a part of the school day. That is an after school activity for those who wish to take a class."

    Then it's logical to assume that only the RESPONSIBLE parents will sign their kids up for such a class... These parents are the ones that abide by law and then some to keep their kids safe.

    On October 7th, you said:

    " I would not want my children learning gun safety because they didn't have guns around the home"

    It's the children of lazy/stupid people that you need to worry about.

    Mandatory gun safety training for all kids will help them know what to do when they go to Grandpa Joe's house, and stumble across his revolver.

    Joan, if you are seriously concerned about limiting child death (as I am) I urge you to rethink your position on teaching gun safety in school.

  45. to protect myself and my family

    Doesn't require someone dying to do it's intended function.

  46. Reported just today...


    Another...this one even uses field artillary! (gasp, shudder!)


  47. japete said ...

    "Aside from recreational shooting at targets, what else do you use a gun for except to kill an animal or a person?"

    To deter or prevent a person from harming or killing an innocent. The defensive shooter learns to shoot until the threat is no longer a threat, which does not necessarily mean death of the attacker.

  48. Joan,

    I don't know what numbers you are looking at but try this one from WISQARS


    Firearm are 8th on the list of unintentional deaths.

    Or this source -- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001915.htm

    Sorry but homicide isn't the top killer of children

  49. There is too much for teachers to teach already. There's no room in the curriculum for such. Not all homes have guns so not all people would necessarily want their children learning about gun safety. Less than 40% of homes have guns. Parents can teach their children not to touch guns when they go to another home and ask if there are guns where their children play. They can talk to other parents about not having guns around or making sure they are securely locked if their children play in a home where there are guns. I know you all would love to make it mandatory. It's just not going to happen. I have been on the School Board in my city. I know how these things work.

  50. Anon- that implies that you would use the gun to kill or injure.

  51. Thanks, Words

    It's interesting to note that occasionally a gun can be useful for such activities as blowing holes in dome roofs and starting an avalanche on purpose to avoid a natural one when you don't want it. I suppose that is because there is not another way to do such things. But that still does not classify a gun as other than a weapon. These are rare uses of guns.

  52. Mark, that still falls under the category of a weapon. That's what you say you need it for- to kill or injure someone else. What do you call a gun you carry for self defense if not a weapon designed to kill someone if you need to?

  53. We're stuck in a conundrum over firearms safety training because certain elements of society would rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend that firearms don't exist.

    The do...and teaching people about the safe operation and storage would go a long way towards reducing some of the numbers you're quoting above Joan.

    You don't have to handle/use/own anything simply because you take a class...no one was saying anything. But children (and some adults) are curious by nature. If you deny them access to firearms, and deny them the opportunity to learn about their safety/usage. You're setting these children up for potential disaster when they get out of your control.

    In response to this thread (and others), I talked to my neighbors over the last few days about firearms and safety. I'll be leading a firearms safety class at the nearby elementary school (with the principal's written permission) for this group and anyone else that wants to come. There's no "agenda" behind this...just an overview of the technology, terms, laws, and safe handling rules.

    I'll also be sponsoring (along with my employer) a day at a local range for those who wish to understand more about the safe usage of a firearm.

    This is my idea of common sense gun safety. Your mileage may vary!

  54. There are about 115 million households in the US... that means even if you don't have a gun, there are 46 million households your child could visit that have a gun.

    Your position is mind boggling... you say you are so appalled that children are dying because of guns,
    but refuse to accept such a simple solution as more safety education because it's too controversial?

    Do you think DARE is a good program? Some could say teaching 4th and 5th graders about drugs is pretty controversial too.

  55. I couldn't access the first link, anon, above. I didn't say it was the top killer but in certain age categories, gun homicides and suicides are the number 2 or 3 killer of children. I don't know what the definition of accidents is in the 2nd link. It could include accidental shootings. Accidental shootings are not as prevalant as a cause of death as other causes of death. But as children grow older, gun homicides and suicides emerge as one of the leading causes of injury deaths for children in several age categories.

    " Children in states with many guns have elevated rates of unintentional gun deaths, suicide and homicide. The state rates of non-firearm suicide and non-firearm homicide among children are not related to firearm availability. " from: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html

    http://webappa.cdc.gov/cgi-bin/broker.exe- Unintentional firearm deaths in children aged 2-18 in 2007= 121 and the 8th leading cause.

  56. "as kids get older, they can find those guns and teen-agers know exactly where they are"

    Exactly. Which is why it is so important to teach them how to handle them responsibly.

    "There is too much for teachers to teach already. There's no room in the curriculum for such."

    When I was a kid, every kid went through bicycle safety training. Seeing that every kid goes through firearms safety training is far more important.

    The problem is that just as some kids who are exposed to bicycles might grow up to be competitive or recreational bicyclists, some kids who are exposed to firearms might grow up to be competitive or recreational shooters.

    And the gun-grabbers would rather see them dead.

  57. Good for you, Pat. It is not true that if you teach your children about guns, they won't be curious to pick them up and even shoot them. There have been several hidden camera videos showing that to be true. If it was the case, why did the 2 kids who were trained hunters end up in so much trouble cleaning that hunting gun? One shot the other. It is not enough to just train kids. Other things come into play. Children are not meant to be handling dangerous weapons designed to kill.

  58. Again, anon. I did not say I am against teaching children about guns. It just should not be a mandatory part of the curriculum. Who will do it? The NRA? I think most would find that to be a biased group teaching children. DARE is a good program. It deals with all sorts of things concerning drugs and staying away from drugs. Drugs can cause a lot of trouble and are accessible to children and teens and abused. They can kill kids and teens if overdosed. I am in favor of DARE. It's different than teaching about guns. If you want it, go lobby your local School Board.

  59. We've been around about this before. I think we have exhausted anything new. I'm pretty done with this thread unless someone can find something new to say about it.

  60. "Good for you, Pat. It is not true that if you teach your children about guns, they won't be curious to pick them up and even shoot them. There have been several hidden camera videos showing that to be true."

    The hidden camera videos show a parent/adult saying "No" and leaving the room. Thats obviously not enough. Parenting isn't one word, or one action -- its a lifetime of teaching and learning along with proper reinforcement. I wouldn't EVER leave a weapon of any kind unsecured in an area accessible to children...my kids have friends who aren't so informed (I'm working on it). My children understand that horseplay with a firearm can lead to death, and that death is permanent...not a video game.

    Whats going to be interesting is when one of them someday tells me that they're not interested in this kind of thing anymore -- then I know that my job will have been complete, and that they've made an informed decision.

    Then we'll go fishing...or camping...or to a museum together. Our lives aren't consumed by the all-powerful gun!

    Have a good one!

  61. Most firearm owners manuals wisely state, "Never rely on the safeties in this gun." with good reason. Here's a thought experiment. A man picks up a gun and points it at a loved one. Now imagine adding a safety feature to that gun to protect the loved one. The man now disables that new safety feature. Now imagine adding another one, after which the man disables that one also.

    What safety feature could you add to the gun that would protect the loved one?

    This problem has been researched extensively and incredible safety systems have been developed that read the palm print of the user, the muscle pressure signature of the users grip, or operate from a ring or implant in the owners hand. The problem with high tech solutions is that they are only reliable in controlled conditions and emergency real world conditions are always completely out of control.

    And that's key to any safety system. The gun must still be extremely reliable after all the safety systems are installed because a life might depend on it. Imagine a police officer having to pull out his weapon with a bloody and crippled hand to defend his life seconds before the psychopath near him is about to kill him. Imagine a police officer having to defend himself with an assailant's gun because his own gun ran dry. Imagine a young girl who was just raped and who attempted to defend herself from the assailants knife by grabbing at the sharp knife escaping to her father's room to retrieve his gun in one final attempt to protect herself. She may not even be able to hold the gun properly to take that final shot.

    There is no safety that can protect a man from his own ignorance.

  62. Check this out everyone: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20101218/NEWS01/12180339/Weapon+discharges+in+pawn+shop++hurts+man

    A gun discharged when it was knocked over at a pawn shop, injuring an employee. These things happen.

  63. "I am wondering what the difference is here?"

    I can give an example. This is not designed to a weapon:


    Though it is still dangerous because of its function. In fact, because it's a high end target pistol, it has fewer safety features than my Glock, which is, generally speaking, meant to be a weapon. Reason being that safeties interfere with a clean trigger, and most competitive shooters want a hair trigger on their target guns. It could be used as a weapon in a pinch, just like a kitchen knife could, but it's designed to hurl a projectile at high speed with great accuracy, not "to kill," even though it is capable of killing.

    Interestedly enough, because that pistol has a magazine on the outside, it's considered an assault weapon in some jurisdictions.

  64. "A man picks up a gun and points it at a loved one. Now imagine adding a safety feature to that gun to protect the loved one. The man now disables that new safety feature."

    When I was attending Engineer Officer Basic Course, at Ft. Belvior, I sat through a presentation by an officer who'd been running a demolition range at Graf, when one of his NCO instructors, demonstrating on an M180 cratering charge, said "and the trigger has a safety, so that it won't go off when you do this", and then proceeded to kill or maim 30+ people.

    That you never rely on a safety is one of the fundamental principles of operating any mechanism.

  65. To return to the original subject, this is how I parse the argument that Joan has put forward:

    1) Guns are unregulated in that no federal agency has authority to oversee standards for their manufacture, distribution, or modification.
    2) Firearms are unsafe in that they discharge when their owners do not intend them to.

    As has been discussed, item #1 is just not true. Firearms are not regulated under the CPSC regime, true, but they are heavily regulated by the ATF. Claiming that firearms are not regulated is like claiming that airplanes or medical drugs aren't regulated; it just ain't so!

    It is true that the ATF does not necessarily have the authority to order a product recall. This authority would almost certainly be abused. Moreover, civil liability works great here. No company is going to want to keep an unsafe product that will generate lawsuits on the market!

    As far as item #2 goes, it may be true that very rarely, firearms discharge when unintended. For example, older revolvers from the days before the transfer bar safety (Ruger re-enginered all their revolvers to feature it in 1973) can discharge if dropped. That is why you are supposed to carry an older single action revolver with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Still, even though every revolver Ruger has sold for almost four decades has this feature, most Ruger guns I've purchased include an offer to retrofit any old revolvers you may have. Ruger does not want these older revolvers on the street as they pose a potential liability hazard.

    This is why it is important to have any older firearm checked out by a competent gun smith and to be familiar with its manual of arms. It is also important to follow all four rules; even if an accidental discharge occurs, if the weapon is pointed in a safe direction it will not be tragic.

    Modern firearms almost never discharge when unintended. The link you posted just doesn't have enough information to tell. It could have been an improperly loaded single action revolver -- or the trigger could have been pulled when someone tried to catch the falling gun! In fact, modern firearms are so unlikely to discharge that some in our community have proposed a corollary to the existing four rules: never try to catch a dropped gun.

    If you think that the big bad companies don't care about lawsuits, I'd think again. Any ambulance chasing lawyer will love to take on such a suit. They work for commission (taking, say, 3/4 of any judgement) so the injured victim doesn't need to be wealthy to pursue a suit. Lawsuits can be financially crippling to a company. There is no sort of federal immunity that protects a firearms manufacturer from being sued if their product doesn't work as advertised (i.e., pull the trigger and go bang; do not go bang any other time).

    If you can present any statistics that indicate how bad the accidental discharge problem is, I'll take the claim that guns are dangerously unsafe more seriously. However, most of the time, these accidents are negligent discharges caused by operator error, not mechanical failure.

  66. @jdege
    That's why some don't consider the Glock very safe. Since it has no manual safety, it's very unforgiving if you have poor handling. The thing is, the trigger is about the only thing that will set it off, it's very resistant to accidentally firing from a drop.

  67. japete, You are super-woman. Fifty pro-gun extremists against you, that's about a fair balance.

    The funniest part is that so often the pro-gun crowd accuse us of repeating the same things over and over again, as if they don't do that.

    Thanks for running a wonderful blog.

  68. @mikeb - 50:1 odds against says something about your position.

    I believe the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Your side should concentrate on issues like the 18yr olds with handguns argument, and cease attacking fronts that were satisfied (legally, morally, ethically?) years ago.

  69. Thanks for the advice, Pat. But keep in mind that the 50 to 1 ratio is only here on the gun blogs. In the real world, you guys are a miserable, although vocal, minority. Even most of your fellow gun owners couldn't care less about what you have to say. This is why your unified and excessive push for gun rights has to be so abrasive and nasty, because you're the minority and you desperately need to be heard.

    Eventually, I believe the country will come to its senses and take the blinders off.

  70. Funny - the same comment goes back your way as well - that the country HAS taken the blinders off, which is why so many of the more draconian control measures have been repealed/canceled/expired, etc...and you most definitely have the "abrasive and nasty" part down (unapologetically based on your blog as well, good luck with that). I wonder what it would be like to debate you in person, if you hide behind the cloak of anonymity the Internet grants...

    The 50:1 ratio is more real world than you could possibly understand - living in the US as vicariously as you do through the Internet. Speak for all Americans while in Italy do you?

    You're slightly correct (oddly) in that many Americans are woefully misinformed as to what firearms laws mean. This is due to the myriad of ways they've been interpreted and enforced.

    Rather than simply railing against ANY proposed rule change, some of we more moderate advocates have taken it upon ourselves to educate the unwashed masses as to what current firearms' laws mean, and what impact proposed legislation would have (if any).

  71. Who are the "unwashed masses "? That implies that you must know more than most people do,Pat. I would not assume that even if I did.

  72. @Joan: "Unwashed Masses" is a fairly common term when referring to a mass of people who either don't know, or don't understand a certain topic.

    "Unwashed masses" in my post as it relates to the General Public's knowledge of firearms laws in the US. There is low understanding/knowledge of firearms laws from this particular segment of the population -- and while I don't profess to be an expert, I have more knowledge than this segment of the population.

  73. "But keep in mind that the 50 to 1 ratio is only here on the gun blogs. In the real world, you guys are a miserable, although vocal, minority. Even most of your fellow gun owners couldn't care less about what you have to say. This is why your unified and excessive push for gun rights has to be so abrasive and nasty, because you're the minority and you desperately need to be heard."

    Except, of course, that every time the people speak, they vote overwhelmingly in favor of the Individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    Kansas, 2010:

    "Explanatory statement. The purpose of this amendment is to preserve constitutionally the right of a person to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for all other lawful purposes, including hunting and recreation.

    A vote for this amendment would constitutionally preserve the right of a person to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose.

    A vote against this amendment would provide for no constitutional right of a person to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose."

    Yes: 720,102
    No: 95,957

    Wisconsin, 1998:

    "Right to keep and bear arms. Shall section 25 of article I of the constitution be created to declare that the people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose?”

    Yes: 1,205,873
    No: 425,052

  74. Thanks for that clarification Pat. Most people don't understand firearms laws because they are so incredibly complicated. That doesn't make them "unwashed masses" or ignorant. It just means that most people don't really care because they are busy with their lives and thinking about things other than guns.

  75. So, jedge, your take on this is that all of those people who voted on something that is already constitutional means that there should be absolutely no restrictions on where people can carry, who can carry and who can own guns? You would be wrong there. It's settled law. What's your point?

  76. @Joan: But it does make them ignorant. They sign petitions from fellow church members without understanding that person's position on their hunting rifles. They think that the motives of the BC would never touch their sport since BC is only "concerned" with handguns and "assault weapons". What they don't realize is that once BC is done with handguns and "assault weapons" - they're coming for "sniper" (hunting) rifles and "armor piercing" (full metal jacket) ammunition as well. The price of enjoying a freedom is eternal vigilance.

    "Most people don't understand firearms laws because they are so incredibly complicated. "
    We should streamline and uncomplicate them - I'm glad we agree!

  77. Well no, Pat. You are wrong. They sign petitions knowing exactly what we are about and knowing that we are no threat to their hunting guns or their rights. They believe in what we are doing and trust us, unlike you guys.

  78. "knowing that we are no threat to their hunting guns or their rights"

    Which is why the language in the Brady Bunch's "cop-killer bullet" bill would have banned every centerfire rifle round. And the language in their bills to close the "gun show loophole" would have shut down gun shows. Etc.

    The simple truth is that most of you don't understand enough about firearms or the firearms market to understand what the consequences of any particular language would be, and the folks who run your organizations take advantage of that to phrase the language of your proposed legislation to have impacts far beyond what most of your supporters would agree with.

  79. And that is your intepretation of it, Jedge. Can't you give this a rest on Christmas Eve? Why so combative?

  80. The USA should follow the lead of other countries and start prosecuting parents for the sins of their kids. That would go a long ways towards stopping senseless violence.

  81. Check out the comment boards of Foxnews.com. You will see HUNDREDs of Right Wing Nuts who want to shoot everyone and everything: yes, including children of "the libs". Legislation won't stop them or their party (Republiscums) from hatred and violence...the only solution is to dissolve the government and split up into independent state countries and watch the Right Wing Nuts kill each other.