Advertisement

Why wait three years?

October 02, 1998

To judge by his latest round of advertisements, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening has decided to sell himself to the public as the scourge of gun violence. But the latest law he's proposing would mandate a technology that's just being developed, when there are simpler, quicker (and cheaper) methods to accomplish the same end.

On Tuesday the governor held a press conference to announce that if re-elected, he will pass a law to make Maryland the only state which requires that all handguns be childproof. Technology to produce such guns exists, the governor said, and it's just a matter of "forcing gun manufacturers to bring it to market."

Officials of the Johns Hopkins University for Gun Policy and Research say that in 1995, the latest year for which figures are available, 440 children under 19 died through accidental use of firearms. In Maryland, one child was killed and about a dozen were injured.

Advertisement

In answer to the governor's question - "How can we possibly stand by and do nothing?" - we note that some of the technology that would render a firearm inoperable by anyone but its owner is still being researched, research that might not yield saleable guns for years. Glendening himself acknowledged that, saying that the bill would contain a three-year phase-in period.

So if we're not going to "stand by and do nothing" for three years, what's the realistic alternative?

Inexpensive trigger locks that prevent guns from being fired by anyone who doesn't have the combination are available now. It would be simple to mandate their use by anyone who doesn't store their guns in a secure strongbox or gun safe. It would also be simple to clarify the law so that those who don't secure their firearms would be liable for any violence perpetrated with them by children.

Gun owners have known since two teens shot up a schoolyard in Jonesboro, Ark., that there'd be new calls for laws restricting youngsters' access to guns. We'd rather see responsible owners use the protective devices that exist now than to have them wait three years, hoping for something better.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|