June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced two bills aimed at reducing gun violence and increasing firearm safety. One of the bills calls for safety modifications in handguns to guard against incidents among children. This past weekend, another child death occurred, as a 5-year old girl in New Orleans accidentally shot and killed herself with a .38 caliber revolver. 

Speier stated: “Each year, we are saddened by unspeakable tragedies involving guns and children. Yet, a majority of gun deaths involving children are preventable at the point of manufacturing. More than half of child deaths from guns result from accidents or failure to secure guns in the home. In the past, we have taken similar safety measures with products such as butane lighters and prescription drug bottles. It’s inexcusable we haven’t done the same with deadly weapons. We have an urgent responsibility to prevent these tragic deaths through smart, more effective handgun policies.” 

In particular, the Child Handgun Safety Act would require that all handguns manufactured, sold in, or imported into the United States to incorporate technology that precludes the average 5-year-old child from operating a handgun when it is ready to fire. The Act would also require any handgun sold, offered for sale, traded, transferred, shipped, leased, or distributed in the U.S. two years after enactment to be child-resistant or retrofitted with a child-resistant mechanism. The Child Handgun Safety Act is supported by the Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center.

June 14th marked the six-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., which took the lives of 20 first-grade children and six adults. Despite calls for reevaluating how we ensure the well-being of Americans of all ages, no significant gun safety or protection legislation has been passed since that national tragedy. In that time, 73 more children aged 12 and under have been killed by guns. Of those 71 deaths, 40 were due to accidental shootings – 29 of which involved a teen or child aged 17 or younger pulling the trigger. In just the past two months, six horrific accidental shootings involving children aged 5 and under have lent grim urgency to this issue: 

  • Corsicana, TX, a 3-year-old boy died after a self-inflicted shooting with a handgun inside a bedroom in his home, striking himself in the head.

  • Tampa, FL, A 3-year-old boy who found a gun in his uncle’s backpack shot himself and died.

  • Greenville County, SC, A 2-year-old child reached into his father’s pocket, grabbed a gun and shot himself at his grandparents’ home.

  • Brighton, AL, a 4-year-old shot 4-year-old cousin with .38 Special pistol left on a bed.

  • Lebanon, TN, a 4-year-old boy shot the wife of a sheriff with a pistol.

  • Liberty, MI, the 3-year old son of a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputy, accidentally shot and killed himself with his father’s weapon.

Congresswoman Speier also introduced the Modernized Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 2013, which would require the Attorney General to modify the definition of armor-piercing ammunition to conform to the performance of the bullet, rather than mere metallurgical content. Because of significant developments in bullet propellants, coatings and materials, such as Teflon, the original Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986 is outdated. As a result, the marketplace has been flooded by growing volumes of ammunition that are fully capable of piercing body armor while skirting the definition of the 1986 ban. 

“It’s been 27 years since Congress acted to protect law enforcement personnel from so-called “cop-killer” bullets. Our first responders are at a greater disadvantage today than they were decades ago. If they are going to put themselves in the line of fire in our communities and neighborhoods, we owe it to them to update existing laws and get with the times.”