Monday, January 14, 2002
New State Law Requiring Safety Devices for Guns Prior to Sale Will Be Enforced,Lockyer Says
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Gun dealers will have to comply with a new law requiring guns sold in California to be fitted with firearms safety devices before they can be taken out of the store or risk losing their license, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said Friday.
“We’re not trying to make it hard on the sale of guns,” state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Pasadena, who co-authored the bill, said. “We’re trying to make guns safe.”
Scott’s son, Adam, died after being shot by a friend showing off a gun at a party.
Assembly Bill 106, which went into effect Jan. 1., requires newly purchased firearms to be fitted with state approved trigger locks or other safety devices designed to reduce gun accidental deaths and shootings. With California’s 10-day waiting period, Friday was the first day gun buyers could pick up their guns under the new law.
“If [gun dealers] sell firearms without devices they will pretty quickly lose their license to sell firearms,” Lockyer said. “We’re serious about this and we are going to enforce it.”
Scott said securing guns will help reduce gun accidents and cut down on self-inflicted injuries and gun thefts.
Forty-eight separate devices have been tested and approved by the Department of Justice, which can fit more than 8,000 different gun models. When testing locks on the market before the AB 106 was passed, more than 90 percent of the locks tested by the DOJ failed to pass department standards, Lockyer said.
“They were just not what they should be,” Scott said.
Gun locks come in two different variations, a trigger lock that fits around the trigger and prevents it from being pulled, but allows the weapon to be stored while loaded, and an adjustable cable barrel which fits down the gun barrel and prevents a round from being chambered.
Gun lock manufacturer Michael Walsh of Armadillo Firearms Security Products questioned the effectiveness of the trigger lock, which can be adjusted to fit 1,000 of different kinds of guns.
“Because you have a chambered round, you still have the possibility of discharge,” Walsh said.
He also said the law targets responsible gun owners instead of irresponsible buyers.
“The person who buys a firearm and who is not going to keep it out of reach of children is the same person who is not going to keep the gun lock on when they get it,” Walsh said.
Gun buyers must pick up the tab for the new requirement. State approved locks range in price anywhere from just under $11 to over $20, with an average price of $15.
The law will affect the nearly 1,300 handguns and 1,650 long guns sold in the state each month. But there is no requirement for the lock to stay on once the gun buyer gets the gun home.
Donnar Herrick, owner of Lock Stock’n Barrel in San Gabriel, said she didn’t see the need for the added requirement since there are already strict regulations about how guns are transported and gun locks have been in use for years.
“Most people are responsible,” Herrick said. “My customers are responsible.”
Herrick also said the law is going to have a negative impact on her 36-year-old business.
“It’s going to affect my business,” Herrick said. “It’s just more bookwork and we’re going to lose sales.”
Gun buyers can get around the new requirement by signing an affidavit they own a gun safe that can fully hold their guns and provide safe storage.
A lock has not yet been approved for certain kinds of shotguns and rifles, preventing those guns from being sold until a lock is approved by the state.
Scott said he is introducing emergency legislation that will be heard next week to address the rifle and shot gun problem. SB 510 temporarily exempts those guns that do not yet have a state approved device on the market from AB 106 while gun lock manufacturers develop new devices for them.
In addition to saving lives, Lockyer said numerous tax dollars will be saved from preventing accidental shootings from happening.
“Lives will be spared and significant public cost will be avoided,” state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said. “This is good for taxpayers.”
County-USC Medical Center alone handles nearly 4,000 gunshot victims a year. Every gun injury costs on average $28,000 with the bulk of that being paid by taxpayer dollars, Scott said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company