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More Truths About Guns in America

Common sense gun safety laws work

Marian Wright Edelman | 12/3/2019, 12:12 p.m.
When will parents be able to protect their children from guns?

On Nov. 6, 17-year-old Da’Qwan Jones-Morris, a former Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools scholar from St. Paul, Minn., was killed when he was accidentally shot in the chest by a 15-year-old friend playing with a stolen gun in our gun saturated nation.

Da’Qwan and a group of friends were playing video games after school when the boy who had stolen the gun a few days earlier pulled it out of his bag to show it to the 15-year-old, who fired it without realizing it was loaded. Da’Qwan, a high school senior, was the co-captain of his football team and excited about applying to college. His mother said she always sought out positive opportunities like the CDF Freedom Schools program, sports, and the church choir to keep her son busy—but she still couldn’t keep him safe.

When will parents be able to protect their children from guns? CDF’s Protect Children Not Guns 2019 report sets the record straight about critical truths you need to know about gun regulations, gun laws, and the gun industry in America to fight the scourge of gun violence in our nation that takes 3,410 child lives a year—one every 2 hours and 34 minutes.

It is outrageous and irresponsible that the only unregulated consumer product in America is one that takes the lives of nine children and teens a day and injures another 50.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission can regulate teddy bears and toy guns but not real guns. A 1976 amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Act specifically states that the Commission “shall make no ruling or order that restricts the manufacture or sale of guns, guns ammunition, or components of guns ammunition, including black powder or gunpowder for guns.” This disgraceful restriction remains in effect today.

The gun industry has been granted broad immunity from liability lawsuits, preventing consumers from holding negligent gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for irresponsible behavior unlike every other major industry. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act —passed by Congress in 2005 with pressure from the NRA—grants gun manufacturers and dealers broad immunity from federal and state liability lawsuits. No other industry enjoys such blanket immunity. Given these special protections, gun manufacturers and dealers face virtually no penalties for failing to make guns safer or preventing their guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Virtually anyone can buy a gun without a background check under current law. Federal law requires anyone purchasing a gun from a federally licensed dealer to complete a background check but does not cover private sales at gun shows, sales over the internet, and between individuals. These hugely dangerous loopholes allow people unable to pass a background check—including those convicted of violent crimes and domestic abuse—to easily obtain a gun.

But common sense gun safety laws work and have effectively reduced gun violence without preventing law abiding citizens from owning guns.

A study with data from 54 U.S. cities found diverting guns to criminals is much less common in states that license retail gun sellers; require careful record keeping that can be reviewed by law enforcement; require potential buyers to apply for a license directly with a law enforcement agency; and conduct regular compliance inspections.