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Public Statements

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, if we are going to give gun dealers immunity from lawsuits, then I believe we should insist they take every safety precaution available when selling firearms. This amendment goes a long way to help reduce the number of accidental shootings, particularly among the most vulnerable members of our society, our children, by requiring dealers to sell a safety device with all handguns. We have all read troubling stories about lives cut short by accidental shootings and teen suicides. They are made all the more terrible by the knowledge that many were preventable. The annual number of firearm injuries and deaths involving children is startling.

According to the most recent stats available, thousands of people are injured every year in accidental shootings, including more than 800 gun-related tragedies that resulted in death. In addition, it is estimated that every 6 hours, a young person between the ages of 10 and 19 commits suicide with a firearm. In all, 13,053 children were injured by firearms in 2002. Securing the firearm with a child safety lock could have prevented many of these tragedies. The sad truth is that we are inviting disaster every time an unlocked gun is easily accessible to children.

Eleven million children live in households with guns, and in 65 percent of those homes, the gun is accessible to the child. In 13 percent of them, the gun is left loaded and not locked. This amendment will help address this problem. It requires that a child safety device be sold with every handgun. These devices vary in form, but the most common resembles a padlock that wraps around the gun trigger and immobilizes it. Trigger locks are already used by tens of thousands of responsible gun owners to protect their firearms from unauthorized use, and they can be purchased in virtually any gun store for less than $10.

The Senate has already expressed its support for the sale of trigger locks with handguns, most recently last year, when 70 Senators voted in favor of this exact same amendment.

The mandatory sale of trigger locks is equally supported in the rest of the country and the law enforcement community. Polls have shown that between 75 and 80 percent of the American public, including gun owners, favors a mandatory sale of safety locks with guns. In a recent survey of 250 of Wisconsin's police chiefs and sheriffs, 91 percent agreed that child safety locks should be sold with each handgun.

The current administration has indicated its support for this concept. During his campaign in 2000, President Bush indicated that if Congress passed a bill making the sale of child safety locks mandatory with every gun sale, then he would sign it.

All of these people agree that we should be doing everything within our power to promote the use of locks or other safety devices with handguns. Nobody has ever claimed that this would be a total panacea. To be sure, it will not prevent every single firearm-related accident. But its importance cannot be overstated. Stats show that those who buy locks are more likely to use them. And when they are used, they do prevent accidental deaths. While imposing a minimal cost on consumers, it would prevent the deaths of many innocent children every year, which is a small price to pay. The Senate spoke overwhelmingly in favor of this type of proposal just last year. We should do so again today.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this amendment. I ask unanimous consent that the following Senators be added as cosponsors of the amendment: Senators BOXER, MIKULSKI, CORZINE, and LAUTENBERG.

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