Lock n’ load: Safety, not protection is first

Imagine that you are the parent of a 3-year-old who shot himself.

Could you imagine the pain and agony of losing your child to something that could have been prevented?

The death of 3-year-old Tylib Bailey-Hankerson, who accidentally shot himself Oct. 16, signaled that loaded and unlocked firearms in homes with children are still a recipe for disaster.

Though The Child Safety Lock Act of 2005 was implemented by Congress to ensure that all licensed firearm manufacturers, importers and dealers provide a trigger
lock with every handgun that they sell, funding for the law is in question.

An amendment that will prohibit funds from being used to enforce this law was recently passed.

Has Congress lost sight of what the intention of this law is? The description of the law encourages the safe storage and use of handguns by consumers to prevent unauthorized persons, including children, from using handguns.

This law will help prevent children from being in front page news when their curiosity gets the best of them and the parents don’t think twice about unloading their gun.

This law will help parents become more aware of their children’s safety and find alternatives to protecting their home besides having a firearm present.

If this law was already enacted, it may have saved Tylib’s life.

“This legislation, which was signed into law by President Bush last fall, is good common sense and would work to address the large number of firearm injuries and deaths that occur when users mistakenly fire guns they believe are not loaded,” said Congressman Jim Langevin, D-RI, in a June press release.

Langevin was a victim of an accidental shooting at the age of 16 and was paralyzed. The amendment passed must be reconciled by the Senate by the end of the year.

“I am hopeful that the final conference
report will recognize the importance of the Child Safety Lock Act of 2005 and restore funding for this life-saving legislation,”
Langevin said.

It’s not surprising unlike Langevin, the National Rifle Association begs to differ on the purpose of the CSLA.

On its Web site is a list of reasons why this piece of legislation is misleading.
One reason it does not support the CSLA is that it would drive firearm manufacturers,
faced with the threat of severe criminal and civil penalties, out of business for failure to provide approved “locking devices”

and obey prescribed regulations.

Another reason is that the law would intimidate private citizens into not keeping guns ready for personal protection.

These reasons show that the NRA is anxious and apprehensive about the CSLA.

Would this law seriously drive manufacturers out of business if they just followed regulations?

No, manufacturers would drive themselves
out of business if they decided to break arranged laws and follow their own rules of thumb.

Also, firearms are not the only means of personal protection. Firearms can actually
do more harm than good.

Parents who decide to have handguns in their home should purchase a trigger lock. This helps in the reduction of youth accidents and deaths caused by unlocked guns.

Alternatives to having a firearm for protection are out there. Purchasing an alarm system that alerts the police when a criminal activity or robbery occurs is a good alternative.

Another option to consider is the purchase of a trained attack dog to protect your home. Also consider investing inself-defense classes which give instruction on the best way to defend yourself and family when under attack.

Of course, we live in a society in which people threaten other people’s lives. Yes, we do want to protect our children at any cost because of this.

But does this justify using handguns as the only means of protection?

Having handguns in the home with children opens the door to potentially hazardous
accidents or even death.

For parents who do have firearms in the home, get the lock.

For Congress, fund it and make it law.

Mary L. Wilson can be reached at squizzy@temple.edu.

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