Posted: 3/13/2001 4:58:19 PM EDT
Tuesday, March 13, 2001
Gun Control Lobby Looks to States for Action
By SUE PLEMING, Reuters
WASHINGTON--Faced with a less-sympathetic ear in the White House,
America's main gun control group on Tuesday announced a new initiative to
persuade states to impose safety standards on the gun industry.
Gun control advocates reject suggestions they are losing steam in
their fight against guns at the federal level with the arrival of
President George W. Bush, but say their battle is likely to focus more
than ever on the state level.
"We will probably be more active on the state level than before but
we are not giving up at the federal level either," Michael Barnes,
president of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and its affiliate,
Handgun Control, told Reuters.
A California high school shooting eight days ago that left two dead
and 13 wounded brought the issue of guns to the forefront again in a
country where about 30,000 people die from firearm-related deaths each
Gun control advocates also point out the rate of firearm deaths
among children 14 years and younger is nearly 12 times more than in 25
other industrialized countries combined.
The calls for stricter gun controls appeared more muted than usual
after last Monday's shooting, with Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York
Democrat, calling for a "code of responsibility" for gun owners rather
than tougher action.
Former President Clinton was a vocal supporter of the gun control
lobby, while Bush leans more toward the views of the powerful National
Rifle Association, which says enforcement of current regulations and not
new ones is the answer to gun violence.
Using Massachusetts as an example, Barnes announced a new push by
his group to get states to regulate the gun control industry by using
consumer protection laws already in place in at least 20 other states.
Massachusetts regulations force gun manufacturers to install
gunlocks and built-in child safety devices on all guns. In addition, the
state has strict registration and licensing requirements and bans assault
"One of the tragic absurdities of our nation's gun policies is that
guns, which take the lives of 30,000 Americans every year, are completely
exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission," said
IMPOSE SAFETY STANDARDS
In a report called "Targeting Safety," the center analyzed consumer
protection statutes in the states and found 20 of them had the same legal
power as Massachusetts to impose safety standards on guns though they did
not do it.
"This means that state officials have the power right now to save
lives by making handguns safer, without the need to enact new laws,"
The center said it had sent the report to the 20 states and urged
them to follow Massachusetts' example and impose stringent consumer
regulations on the safety of guns.
"The National Rifle Association is fond of saying we need to more
vigorously enforce existing laws to prevent violence. That's exactly what
we are asking states to do," said Barnes.
NRA spokesman Bill Powers told Reuters gun control lobbyists were
trying to accomplish "via the back door" what they had failed to do
through Congress, adding that last November's election results showed how
most Americans felt about the issue of guns.
Powers said it was "unfair and deceptive" of gun control advocates
to say regulations did not already exist to control the gun industry.
"Firearms are one of the most heavily regulated products in America," he
When Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly announced the
implementation last April of the first state consumer safety standards for
handguns, it was immediately challenged in court by the gun industry.
The industry's lawsuit, which argued that Reilly had exceeded his
legal authority, reached the state's supreme court which upheld the
Attorney General's authority.
Reilly welcomed the move to encourage states to follow Massachusetts
and said this was a useful approach for the gun control lobby. "The
situation in Washington is not encouraging at the moment. But maybe the
president will surprise us, I hope so," said Reilly.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
I really hate the liberal media trying to jumpstart the gun issue.
When will they learn to shuttt the hellll up.