AP Photo/Dave Martin
I’m a big proponent of locking up your guns, especially when you have children in the house. What I’m not a fan of, however, are laws that require people to do so.
Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article all about how laws requiring such things are good.
When a 12-year-old boy died last week in Westchester County after accidentally shooting himself while playing with a gun at home, police officers reminded the public to keep guns away from children.
A similar warning had been issued by different officials a few weeks earlier, when a 10-year-old boy on Long Island showed off a loaded gunin the school cafeteria. The boy was charged with criminal possession of a gun on school grounds.
More of the same came after a 13-year-old boy shot and killed a 14-year-old girl in Syracuse in January, and a 17-year-old boy accidentally killed himself in Westchester in February. It is a situation that is all too frequent in New York and around the country: At least 63 unintentional shootings by children have resulted in death or injury in 2019 alone, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
It also may be avoidable — which was the hope of New York lawmakers who passed a bill last month to require gun owners who live with someone under 16, or who know that someone under that age could access their gun, to lock up their firearm when it is not in use. Failure to comply would lead to a fine or a misdemeanor.
Though supporters called it a common-sense measure, the bill, if signed into law, would make New York one of just a handful of states with such comprehensive gun storage laws, according to Allison Anderman, senior counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Bear in mind the structure of the article. It starts with tales of kids getting hold of guns and accidentally shooting themselves. They list a few to combat the phrase “isolated incident.” They even tell you that dozens of kids across the nation have fallen victim to similar things so far this year.
They leave out how many millions of children there are or how this is a minuscule percentage of either children or gun owners. They’re set for alarmism.
Then they shift gears into what “supporters” call the measure. It takes another couple of paragraphs before any arguments against such bills make an appearance, all after the battlespace prep has been completed.
Look, I think gun safes and gun locks are awesome things. I think most people should be using them most of the time.
The problem with laws requiring their use is that they don’t take into account those who don’t need to keep them locked up. In particular, those with reason to need to keep their firearms close at hand. Maybe the neighborhood has had a rash of burglaries. Maybe there’s a crime wave going through town. Maybe there’s a legitimate threat being made to one’s family. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that there’s a good reason to keep a gun handy, yet laws like these require individuals to lock up their firearms where they won’t be accessible when needed.
Gun safes are great, but not for every moment and not for every person. Requiring something like that for every gun owner isn’t either.