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Anti-Gun Foundation Suggests Eliminating Firearm Safety Programs

Friday, July 26, 2002

A recent "study" put together by a collection of anti-gun "researchers," and funded by a foundation with a long anti-gun history, has come to the shocking and dangerous conclusion that programs that teach children how to be safe when firearms are present are ineffective and should be abandoned. The David and Lucille Packard Foundation has funded several biased, anti-gun studies in the past, and provided significant financial support to the anti-gun extremist organization, the "Million Mom March" (MMM). The MMM, you will recall, is the organization that staged a Mother’s Day rally in Washington, D.C., in 2000 (drawing closer to 100,000 participants, rather than its promised million), and was absorbed by the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI the following year, after suffering a near catastrophic financial collapse. The list of anti-gun "researchers" included in the "study," coupled with the source of the funding, should be enough to tell most clear-thinking individuals that this latest effort was intended simply as another vehicle to promote the same anti-gun policies that have been championed for many years by the gun-ban movement.

The Packard report makes nine recommendations, most of which would curtail the freedom of law-abiding citizens, while saying absolutely nothing about those who criminally misuse guns. The report’s conclusions range from being extremely predictable to potentially life-threatening. It is expected, of course, to see anti-gun "researchers" conclude that firearms, although already one of the most regulated products in America, should be made subject to increased regulation. In fact, contrary to the Foundation’s suggestion that the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms is somehow lacking in any sort of control, the industry is already strictly regulated. Gun makers are subject to numerous national regulations promulgated by BATF, which are detailed in 152 pages of very small type, and the firearm industry must comply with countless federal, state, and local laws. Manufacturing standards are reviewed by the FBI, the U.S. Customs Service, other public and private agencies—even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Industry standards are set by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), an organization that was created at the request of the federal government in 1926. SAAMI, an accredited standards developer for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), currently publishes more than 700 standards related to firearm and ammunition safety and quality which are reviewed by outside parties. In addition, there are approximately 20,000 laws currently in effect that regulate firearms.

But the most shocking aspect of this release is its attack on safety programs for children. Accidental fatalities involving firearms among children are at an all-time low, and have been decreasing for decades. And while most experts attribute this trend to an increase in programs that teach children how to act safely around firearms (e.g., NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program, which has delivered its safety message to more than 17 million children), the authors of the "study" claim such programs "are of limited effectiveness." An NRA spokesman defended Eddie Eagle, telling the Washington Post, "It is widely taught to children and widely acclaimed, and we’re confident it is an effective program."

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Paul Erhardt dismissed the Packard Foundation’s "study," saying it "doesn’t pass the reality test." An NSSF release responding to last week’s anti-gun propaganda pointed to an analysis from last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Firearms Injury Surveillance Study for 1993 - 1997. The CDC data show that, not only are accidental fatalities at an all-time low, but there has been a dramatic decrease in non-fatal firearm-related injuries for all age categories—including children and adolescents. Erhardt asked the Post, "If safety education doesn’t work, how come the numbers of injuries and deaths are going down?"

It is unlikely the Packard Foundation’s position opposing gun-safety programs will be supported by anyone but the truly anti-gun. HCI’s Michael Barnes, for example, praised the conclusions of his cohorts in the anti-gun movement, and told the Washington Post his gun-ban lobby had "abandoned its child education program." But even proposing shifting resources away from safety education programs is extremely reckless. HCI may have "abandoned its child education program"—likely after nobody expressed any real interest in it because it was more anti-gun propaganda than safety instruction—but NRA, along with those truly concerned about keeping firearm ownership safe and legal, will continue to promote our own life-saving programs.

The bottom line is that this "study" is merely designed to promote an agenda aimed at restricting access to firearms by law-abiding, responsible citizens by proposing that "laws regarding gun sales should be tightened." It also suggests the design of firearms be left in the hands of bureaucrats and the anti-gun community.

Perhaps the most dangerous and disturbing conclusion of the Foundation is the ridiculous notion that firearm safety programs have "limited effectiveness." Should any policy makers take this outrageous position to heart, and should this lead to the abandonment of even one firearm safety program, it could quite easily lead to the tragic loss of life because a child was not exposed to an important safety message.

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