I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. I love The Trace. Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitpropmeisters never fail to provide grist for TTAG’s mill, as well as links to stories we may have missed. Today’s lesson in gun control fail: Five Low-Tech Ways Manufacturers Can Make Guns Safer. Surprising not one of their suggestion involves educating gun owners how to safely and responsibly store, clean and shoot their firearms. It’s all about the gun, right? So here they are . . .
1. Chambered round indicators
Some gun activists are skeptical of the devices, claiming they would be redundant if people followed the first of the “four rules of gun safety” — always treat a gun as though it’s loaded. But firearms owners and users do not always heed that advice . . .
. . . it’s clear that these chambered round indicators address a real public health need. A 1991 study by the Government Accountability Office showed that over two years, nearly a quarter of accidental firearms deaths occurred when people mistakenly thought their guns were unloaded.
What’s not clear: whether a loaded chamber indicator would have any effect on negligent discharges. There is no scientific evidence to support that proposition. What is clear: the Second Amendment prohibits local, state and federal governments from infringing on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms. Mandating chambered round indicators is unconstitutional.
2. Magazine release safeties
Semiautomatic handguns, the most popular type of weapon in the U.S., are loaded with ammunition held in a detachable magazine, which feed a round into the chamber after each shot. Typically, if a round is cycled into the chamber, it remains in place ready to be fired even after the magazine has been removed, meaning the gun is still lethal. Magazine-disconnect features block the gun from firing when the magazine has been taken out.
Some firearm manufacturers, like Smith & Wesson, have long incorporated magazine disconnects into almost every model they make, but the 1999 Journal of Public Health study found that only 14 percent of pistol models overall used a magazine release safety.
Again, where’s the evidence to support the idea that magazine release safeties would reduce negligent discharges (assuming that’s The Trace’s beef)? Again, mandating magazine release safeties is unconstitutional.
3. Heavier trigger pulls
One way to prevent some accidental shootings is to make discharging firearms slightly more difficult. Guns with “light” pulls are more likely to fire when dropped, or when they snag on a piece of clothing. The best known Glock pistol, the 9mm Glock 17, requires only a relatively dainty 5.5 pounds of pressure on the trigger in order to fire.
You just knew The Trace was going to parade their ignorance of firearms at some point. We’re there.
As TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia will tell you, modern guns are drop safe. By the same token, the harder the trigger pull, the more difficult it is to fire a gun accurately. Firing a gun inaccurately is unsafe, as proven by GLOCK’s infamous 11 lbs. “New York” trigger. NYPD officers carrying New York trigger-equipped GLOCKs have a hit rate of just 18 percent.
To their credit, The Trace acknowledges the heavy trigger = diminished accuracy issue. To their discredit, they include their recommendation anyway. Because guns.
4. Grip safeties
John Hopkins’s Stephen Teret, one of the authors of the 1999 Journal of Public Health study, says he likes grip safeties because they are particularly suited to reducing the risk of accidental shootings by children. A 1995 study found that 25 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds, and 90 percent of 7- and 8-year olds, can fire a gun even with a heavy 10-pound trigger pull weight. But even if children that young can pull a trigger, they have a harder time getting their hand firmly around a pistol grip to squeeze the grip safety.
Wait. Small children can pull a 10 lbs. trigger, but can’t grip a gun enough to disengage a grip safety? Oh wait, they have an “unspecified” harder time doing so. They’d have an even harder time doing so if the gun was stored securely. And they’d been even less likely to accomplish the task if they’d learned not to touch a gun.
Anyway, no matter what the argument for or against grip safeties, mandating the type of firearms Americans can use to exercise their gun rights is unconstitutional. Just sayin’ . . .
5. Firing pin blocks
Before a handgun model can be sold by a retailer in California, it first has to pass a test to see if it discharges when dropped. The federal government also imposes a drop-test standard on imported handguns: They were included in the 1968 Gun Control Act, a provision aimed at halting the flow of cheaply made European pistols favored by criminals of that era. Some handguns pass drop tests simply because they’re well constructed, while other revolvers and semiautomatic pistols incorporate features specifically designed to prevent the weapon from firing when dropped. Firing pin blocks — which are found in the 1911-style pistols made by Colt and Kimber — prevent a gun’s hammer from striking the pin unless the trigger is pulled to move the block out of the way.
I’m confused. Modern handguns are drop-safe so the government should mandate how they’re made drop-safe? Not that you were expecting any, but where’s the sense in that?
In any case, there’s no legal basis for forcing gunmakers to make their guns “safer,” any more than there’s a legal basis to force gun control advocates to know what the hell they’re talking about.