To: The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic published potentially dangerous information in
the editorial described in the attached letter. I haven't heard back from
the editors, but you should let your readers know that they run a risk
of DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY if they tinker with the firing mechanism of
a loaded handgun. I know they meant well, but if you think about it, you'll
probably recognize the flaws in the product endorsement that ran as an
editorial last month. Thank you. ----------------------------------------------------
Trigger locks have taken the media by storm, with barrels of ink aimed
at reducing the threat of barrels of guns. But by championing geegaws,
hapless ignorance may have trumped any hope for viable education. The Arizona
Republic, my hometown newspaper, promoted this theme in a recent editorial--complete
with product photo--which shows a removable hammer device apparently designed
to be attached to a COCKED handgun.
The critical gun-lock issue, which has received no media attention,
is that fooling with the mechanism of a loaded, ready-to-fire gun, to attach
a safety device, is incredibly dangerous and greatly increases the chances
of "accidentally" shooting the gun. Recognizing this, contraption
makers typically supply a product warning that says, basically, never use
on a loaded firearm.
Taking a trigger lock off a loaded gun (or in this case, putting the
gun back together), in the adrenaline-fired duress of a criminal attack,
multiplies the chances of setting it off unintentionally. And putting a
lock on an unloaded gun, well, what's the point.
An "innocent" kid who finds a gun, finds matching ammo, figures
out how to unlock the breech, deliberately inserts a live cartridge, relocks
the breech, removes the safetys, cocks the thing and shoots a friend (all
"because" there was no lock) really doesn't seem so innocent
to me. But hey, why not just sue manufacturers for not selling locks, right?
Maybe you should sue the school system for refusing to teach you absolutely
anything about gun safety--considering how much evidence there is that
somebody ought to teach you something. You don't put a knife to your throat
because you've been taught they're dangerous. The same must be taught for
guns, instead of the current policy, which is to stick your head up where
the sun don't shine.
This new removable hammer gizmo, of unproven reliability, has the added
liability of custom retro-fit--sort of like an after-market car sunroof
that you hope won't leak. And this easily lost bauble suffers the same
basic flaw as any keyed lock--if you find the key (or in this case, the
other half of the hammer), the gun is back in business. Conversely, if
you can't find the hammer (or key) in time, you're dead. Where is that
precious few grams of metal in the desperate moments when you really need
So who should you sue when a criminal maims you or kills a family member
because you couldn't get the fool thing on in time to use the gun for its
intended, carefully manufactured purpose--and here's the kicker--for safety.
It seems to me that it's easier and better to gunproof a person, with
education, than to try to childproof (or idiotproof) a gun, by promoting
Remember, 99+% of the 200,000,000 guns in America have never had, and
never will have, any connection whatsoever to accidents, crime or inherent
evil. And crooks, by the way, are completely unaffected by all this, since
guns are totally prohibited as far as they're concerned, and have been
for more than 200 years.
- Alan Korwin, Author
- The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide
Alan Korwin is a full-time free-lance writer and author of seven books
on gun law, including Gun Laws of America Every Federal Gun Law on the
Books with Plain English Summaries. Permission to reprint this article
is granted to non-profit organizations, provided credit is given to Alan
Korwin, Bloomfield Press, Phoenix, AZ. All others, just call us.
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