I would like to comment on your editorial of 25 July 1997 concerning trigger lock legislation. I have two concerns with your editorial. You fail to give an accurate account of the reasoning behind the NRA's unwillingness to support this proposal. You use misleading statements that could lead readers to draw erroneous conclusions.
As you noted in your editorial the NRA is not the only group that is opposed to trigger-lock legislation. However, you failed to inform your readers why the NRA and other groups are opposed to trigger-locks. Instead the tone is accusatory as though the NRA is being stubborn and unreasonable.
The NRA's objection is based on warnings placed on trigger-locks by the manufacturers warning of possible accidental discharges if a lock is inappropriately installed on a loaded gun. Let there be no misunderstanding TRIGGER-LOCKS SHOULD NOT BE INSTALLED ON LOADED FIREARMS AS THIS COULD CAUSE AN ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE.
The NRA position, as noted in the enclosed document downloaded from the NRA web site, is that the improper use of trigger-locks is likely to increase accidental discharges and injuries. Education is felt to be the key to reducing accidental discharges not gimmicks or gadgets. This is a rational position based on experience and a considerable knowledge base of firearms experts. The NRA is the foremost source of gun safety and firearms education in the United States for civilians as well as law enforcement.
Are you unfamiliar with the Eddie Eagle Program the NRA's nationally acclaimed child gun safety program? Marion P. Hammer was awarded the National Safety Council's Citation For Outstanding Community Service for her development of the Eddie Eagle Program. Eddie Eagle has been praised on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and has been endorsed by 19 state legislatures and governors. Perhaps a follow up editorial is warranted to push for the adoption of Eddie Eagle in the Bibb county school system.
Did your editorial board do any research before writing this article? Is the fact that gun related accidents are at the lowest point ever recorded unimportant to your readers? Since 1930 the number of firearms accidents has been cut by more than half. This decrease has occurred despite a doubling of the population and a quadrupling of the number of privately owned firearms within in the same sixty year period.
In your editorial you also make the statement that: "Guns are good for only one purpose." However, you fail to state that purpose and leave the reader to draw a conclusion from the preceding sentences. The most obvious conclusion a reader might draw would be that guns are inanimate objects that are only used as tools by people to kill people. Furthermore this paragraph reads as though gun proponents would agree with this conclusion. I seriously doubt most gun proponents would agree.
According to Webster's New World Dictionary Second Concise Edition (1977) the word "gun" is defined as: "a weapon consisting of a metal tube from which a projectile is discharged by the force of an explosive" the definition further divides guns into categories such as cannons, rifles, pistols and revolvers. Since man seldom designs his tools to perform poorly it can reasonably be said that: "the purpose of a gun is to deliver a projectile or projectiles to a target as accurately as possible by the force of an explosive propellant". In this respect you are correct that a gun has only one purpose. The choice of target is the responsibility of the shooter. The problem occurs when the manner in which a gun is used or misused is described as it's purpose.
These and many other facts were easily obtained from documents posted on the NRA World Wide Web site at http://www.nra.org. including a press release and editorial response on the subject of trigger-locks written to the Washington Post by Tanya K. Metaska on behalf of the NRA. Enclosed please find a copy of the documents I retrieved from the NRA web site. I hope you might consider this letter and the enclosed documents as a beginning to a rational discussion on effective gun safety.
John F. Kraus II RN
Below are links to the documents I used as reference and a link to the NRA's Homepage. I noted recently that these links are now non-functional. I refer all who have questions to the NRA-ILA site. They provide considerable information that is very carefully fact checked and they cite their sources. I am leaving the original links below to provide the actual file names of the documents I read in preparing this letter.
Tanya Metaska's press release on trigger-lock legislation dangers
Ten Myths About Gun Control
Firearm Safety in America
Mandatory Storage/Trigger Lock Legislation
The NRA'S website
This page was originally posted to my website on 6 August 1997.