Finally: A real gun safety message from a gun control group

Last week, the Brady Campaign unveiled its new gun safety campaign.

“End Family Fire” is an initiative to promote safe storage of guns in the home.

There is a frightening video PSA that some might find upsetting.

What I find upsetting is that this is being received like it’s something new. It also bugs me that they inflate the numbers, but that’s a minor quibble.

In a nation of 327 million, the number of people injured and killed by accidental gunshots is very small. However, spreading the word about gun safety could make it even smaller with the goal of making it zero. Unlike suicide and violent crime, this is something we can affect and we don’t even need to pass new laws to do it. Just raise public awareness and promote real safe firearm practices, something the gun industry has been doing for nearly 20 years and the NRA has been doing for even longer.

Sadly, it seems like it’s only a big deal if the gun control advocates (finally) decide to weigh in.

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The death rate from accidental gunshots has fallen nearly 74% since 1981.

You can get a biometric gun safe for $70 on Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime, the shipping is free. The safe will fit in the typical nightstand drawer.

A decent steel gun cabinet costs about $200 and will store up to 18 guns. Another $100 will get a cabinet suitable for securing thousands of rounds of ammunition. These are key-locked, so you do need to keep track of your keys. So for $300, it’s possible to store more guns and ammunition than most gun owners possess. That’s about half the price of a decent gun and a tiny fraction of the cost of treating an injury or burying a loved one and it beats the heck out of a lifetime of grief and possible disability of a loved one.

You can get a free cable-type gun lock from most police departments in America. Just ask for a Project ChildSafe kit. These kits have been available since 1999 and more than 37 million have been distributed. Since the program’s inception, the injury rate for children up to age five has dropped by more than a third and the rate for children up to 17 has fallen nearly 28%. Project Childsafe even has a handy locator for nearby participating law enforcement agencies.

The “End Family Fire” program doesn’t offer this.

Never heard of Project ChildSafe? Maybe it’s because the program is run by the firearms industry through its trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The U.S. Department of Justice awarded a $2.4 million grant to the NSSF to expand the program and everyone in the media went ballistic. It seems nobody checked to see what the grant was for, they just lambasted the DoJ for giving money to the gun industry.

Other than a quick-access safe, the only place for a loaded gun is on your person. Not in a purse; not on a shelf; not stored unsecured in a nightstand. It must be in a place over which you have complete and immediate control. That is what everyone that is actually knowledgeable about this will tell you. If you don’t wish to carry the gun, leave it in the safe.

A total of 495 Americans died due to accidental gunshots in 2016. An additional 21,219 had to be treated for injuries. This includes 2,101 children up to age 17. There were 104 deaths in that age bracket. This is all according to the CDC.

Almost none of these injuries and deaths were due to a malfunction or a design flaw of the gun.

Believe it or not, handguns are among the safest firearms. A feature that prevents the firing pin from striking a primer was introduced by Iver Johnson in 1894 and every new double-action revolver on the market today has a similar safety. Walther introduced a safety for semi-automatic pistols in 1929 that actually locks the firing pin. With few exceptions, mostly for old designs, the only way a modern handgun it will fire is if the trigger is pulled all the way to the rear. As Iver Johnson said back in the 1890s, you could strike the gun’s hammer with a regular hammer and it still would not fire.

Incidentally, most Smith & Wesson revolvers made after 2001 have an additional safety designed for storage. There is a key lock on the side that will lock the action, making the gun impossible to fire. The key is very special and the lock is difficult to defeat unless one knows how to completely disassemble the gun and completely remove the lock mechanism.

This is one of the reasons that I recommend a Smith & Wesson Model 64 or Model 67 to people looking for their first centerfire handgun.

BTW: All new handguns of which I am aware come with a cable-type safety lock and instructions on use.

Gun ownership isn’t for everyone and I respect those who prefer not to have them. If nothing else, though, I would urge all parents to at least teach your children the basic Stop! Don’t Touch! Run Away! Tell an Adult! steps and keep teaching it until it becomes second nature to your child — even the NRA says that repetition is crucial. I wish that schools would teach it in the early grades so that children could get reinforcement from their teachers and peers. It doesn’t require a person to like guns to tell a child not to touch one.

A gun can be one of the safest items in a home. If it isn’t loaded, it’s not going to go off. Almost every gun accident among adults is due to a failure to do one of two basic things: treat every gun as if it’s loaded until you personally verify that it is not, including checking the chamber for live rounds; keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Ironically, when Everytown for Gun Safety did a series of gun safety videos with Melissa Joan Hart, they demonstrated what they called safe gun handling while making one of the most common mistakes. They removed the magazine but didn’t clear the action. The cop was standing there with a gun that could have still had a round in the chamber and could have been fired.

Incidentally, I have been a gun owner since 1970. I like guns; I enjoy shooting. But when my wife and I had a family, we agreed that safety was more important. We didn’t keep guns in the house until the youngest of our children was old enough to learn how to safely handle a gun and responsible enough not to misuse it.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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