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Should Trigger Locks Be Required By Law?
Jenny Murphy
SpeakOut.com Staff Writer
Monday, March 20, 2000

Click on Yes or No below to tell your Representatives how you feel.
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Send a Message!Trigger locks on all handguns will prevent accidental shootings and keep criminals from firing stolen guns. They are a vital safety tool and should be required by law. Send a Message!Trigger locks are useless if gun owners don't use them. Making trigger locks mandatory will have no effect on criminals who use guns in an irresponsible manner.


Last year, after a series of school shootings, the Senate and House both passed versions of a juvenile justice bill in an attempt to prevent future violent crimes. Both bills contained provisions requiring all new guns to be sold with trigger locks, but compromise legislation has been stalled by disagreement over a proposed waiting period for guns purchased at gun shows.

In March, when a Michigan first grader shot and killed a classmate with a gun found in his home, President Clinton argued that a trigger lock might have prevented the child from firing the gun. He urged Congress to end the impasse that has prevented legislation requiring trigger locks on all new guns. In response to this pressure, the House passed a non-binding resolution recommending discussion of a compromise bill.

On One Hand...

Requiring that all new handguns be sold with trigger locks is a common sense solution to the increasing number of tragic shootings involving children. While it's impossible to protect every child from gun violence, mandatory trigger locks would decrease the number of senseless accidents that occur when children get hold of an adult's gun. If there had been a lock on the gun that the first-grader in Michigan used to kill his classmate, the tragedy would have been averted.

On the Other Hand...

Responsible gun owners already take care to keep their guns locked and out of the reach of children. Requiring that all new guns be sold with trigger locks will have little effect, since the law cannot ensure that people will actually use the locks. The Clinton administration is using the tragic shooting of the 6-year old in Michigan to push mandatory trigger lock legislation, but such a law would not have saved the little girl who was shot by a classmate. The boy who shot her was living in a crack house with no responsible adult supervision, so it is unlikely that the gun's owner would have used a trigger lock even if his gun had been sold with one. Trigger locks are already available, and responsible gun owners use them; changing the law is not going to make irresponsible gun owners change their ways.

History & Facts

  • In 1996, even though there were around 80 million gun owners, there were only 44 accidental gun deaths for children under age 10.

  • Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush told reporters he would be willing to sign a law requiring that trigger locks be sold with all handguns, but added that he doubts it would reduce gun violence.

  • New York Gov. George Pataki has called for a series of gun-control measures in his state that include making trigger locks mandatory.

Sources: CBS, AP, Newsweek, National Rifle Association

Making trigger locks mandatory on all new guns will prevent tragedies like the shooting of the 6-year old in Michigan by her classmate.
Strongly Agree
Strongly Disagree


Trigger Lock Law Would be Unenforceable
By Kathleen Parker; Jewish World Review; March 10, 2000: The author believes that criminals and other irresponsible adults are not likely to use trigger locks even if the device came with their gun.

In the Wake of This Shooting
Christian Science Monitor; March 3, 2000: The editorial argues that trigger locks should be required on all new guns.


Center To Prevent Handgun Violence
A non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that lobbies for additional gun regulations at local, state and national levels.

National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association website provides news and information on gun rights issues.

National Firearms Association
The National Firearms Association is a non-profit organization advocating gun rights.

Medical College of Wisconsin Firearm Injury Center
The Medical College of Wisconsin Firearm Injury Center provides information and statistics on firearm related injuries.


The Gun Commandments
The Economist; June 16, 1999: Editorial satire on Congress' response to recent school shootings.

'There is Much More We Can Do'
By Matt Bai and Debra Rosenberg; Newsweek; March 13, 2000: In an interview, President Clinton argues for legislation that would make trigger locks mandatory on new guns.

U.S., Gunmaker Strike a Deal
By Edward Walsh and David A. Vise; Washington Post, March 18, 2000: The article describes new safety and sales standards to be adopted by Smith & Wesson as past of a settlement with several U.S. cities.


Gun Control: Violates Right to Bear Arms or Needed for Safety?

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