Washington should enact a trigger-lock law for child safety
Guns in schools show the need for safe gun storage and holding adults responsible when kids can easily access their guns.
Seattle Times Editorial
HAVING a handgun in the house is legal; failing to keep that gun out of the hands of children is quite another thing.
Two recent gun incidents — one tragic, one a tragedy averted — raise credible questions about gun safety. A state trigger-lock law may be the answer.
An 8-year-old Bremerton girl was shot and seriously injured at her elementary school. Separately, an unloaded handgun was found in the backpack of a Seattle middle-school student.
In the Bremerton case, police believe a 9-year-old classmate got the handgun during a visit with his mother, a felon whose right to own a firearm has been revoked. The gun was in his backpack when it accidentally discharged.
Guns are already banned at school. But it is appalling that a third-grader was able to get the gun at his mother's house. Safe gun storage might have prevented it. The federal trigger-lock law is vague. Washington could follow examples set by Maryland, California and dozens of other states and set specific standards for gun-safety mechanisms.
Safe gun storage is a reasonable request that doesn't infringe on the right to own guns, which is protected in the Second Amendment and affirmed in Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington Constitution.
In the latest ratings by the Brady Campaign, a national gun-control-advocacy group, Washington scored no points in the child-safety category because the state does not require trigger locks for guns or have laws preventing child access to firearms.
This state has been down this road before. Washington Initiative 676, also known as the Handgun Trigger Locks Initiative, was defeated by voters in 1997. We supported the measure, calling it "safe and sane" and underscoring its potential to use basic technology — trigger-locking devices — to reduce the number of horrific incidents of children injured and killed with loaded guns.
Amina Kocer-Bowman, the Bremerton shooting victim, remains heavily sedated with a bullet lodged near her spine; she faces a long recovery. Recently, three high-school students in Ohio were shot dead by a classmate. Regulating minor's access to guns is not unreasonable.