Gun Violence Prevention
Gun Violence Prevention
Paul Helmke (President, The Brady Campaign) gives expert video advice on: Do guns increase violent crime?; Is it safer to use a gun in an attack?; Why is there opposition to gun locks? and more...
Do guns increase violent crime?
The more guns in a home, the more guns in a community, the more guns in a state or a country, the more violence we're going to see in those countries. The more gun violence we're going to see in those countries. The more deaths we're going to see in those areas. The more injuries we're going to see. More guns equals more crime, equals more violence, equals more deaths and injuries.
Is it safer to use a gun in an attack?
Every situation is going to be different. But, generally, if a criminal's got a gun already, the criminal is going to have a jump on you. And you pulling a gun is generally going to end up with you being shot, unless you are well trained, know what you are doing and anticipate it. Trained police officers in a tense situation, a shoot out situation, only hit their target 20% of the time. And for us to expect an untrained, non-police officer, in the middle of the night, to successfully pull that weapon on a bad guy with a gun, just means that that person is more likely to get shot. You're always going to find the individual situation where somebody does use a gun properly. But overall, individuals having a gun, pulling the gun on a bad guy, having the gun in the house, that gun is more likely to be used against the individual or family member than it is to stop the bad guy.
Why is there opposition to gun locks?
It's possible to either manufacture guns that have locks built into them or it's possible to put a lock on a gun. These are things that would make it less likely that a child would get the gun and use it accidentally, less likely that a teenager would get the gun and use it to commit suicide or to injure someone else. The opposition basically, is a couple things. One is people say that will add to the cost of the gun. And if that's going to add a couple of dollars to the cost of the gun, that's considered to be an infringement of their constitutional rights. Some people also argue that if you put certain things, like this on guns, that it might become standard, and all of a sudden it's going to be tougher to pull your gun in the middle of the night, from underneath the pillow and shoot the bad guy, because you'll have to unlock the lock first. It's something that we end up with opposition to common sense regulations and restrictions that we would require on any other piece of dangerous machinery in this country, because of the antipathy of the opposition to any restrictions on guns. So they oppose any steps that are going to make guns more expensive or harder to use.
Are gun locks different than child locks?
Basically, a child lock, a gun lock, is the same sort of thing. It's something to make it less likely that a gun's going to be used by the wrong person. There's other things that guns can do, too. You can possibly set guns up where it has to respond to a specific fingerprint, that shows that there's a bullet in the chamber. There's a number of safety mechanisms that can be built-in for guns. But again, nothing is required from the manufacturer. More is required, again, for the toy gun than there is for the real gun in this country.
Do guns come with safety locks already?
Guns have safeties. An individual with a gun generally can set the gun so it's not going to come out without moving the safety into a different position. But that's just generally a manual move of a lever on the gun, if you will. A lock is something that would make it impossible for someone to fire the gun or to discharge the bullet from the gun without removing the lock or removing part of the lock mechanism from the gun. It would require a key or some sort of a combination to make the gun operable.
What is microstamping technology?
One of the new exciting technologies that could affect guns is something called microstamping. It's a ballistics identification device. And basically it uses a laser to leave an imprint on the firing pin of a weapon. It also uses a layer, a laser to make some imprints on the barrel of a weapon, and for any gun that discharges a cartridge it would leave that imprint on the cartridge itself. And it's something that for a new gun with the laser microstamping, you could look at the cartridge at a crime scene and see the identification number that would tell you in effect what gun dealer last sold that weapon, and from the gun dealer you can find out who last bought the weapon. It's something that if it had been available in the Virginia Tech situation and Virginia would have had these records, they might have found out after the first two murders quickly who the individual was and not gone off on the false lead that they had in the Virginia Tech case.
Do guns come with safety training?
When you buy a gun you can go in, fill out the form, and as long as you pass the background check you can leave in about eight minutes and you don't have to do anything else. A number of gun dealers could make safety training available. Some do. But generally there are no requirements that you have any training at all before you buy a gun. You just have to go in, pass the background check, and you can walk out with as many guns as you want at any time and really any kind of semiautomatic. You got the credit card and the credit limit you can walk out with a thousand AK-47's tomorrow-- no safety training, nothing like that.