Safety regulations and firearms

The site TeddyGun.com has recently cropped up, sponsored by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. And it aims to mislead you into thinking that there is virtually no regulation around the manufacture of firearms.

And they say their comparison is “based on Federal safety regulations for the manufacture of domestic toys and firearms”. As they are comparing it to the manufacture of a child’s toy.

Interesting how in discovering the various regulations (and I doubt they listed all applicable ones) regarding child toys that they aren’t advocating for lesser government regulation regarding said toys. Question: how much of that regulation is needless?

And if you believe what they say, apparently all you need to make a firearm is a Type 7 Federal Firearms License. Setting aside for the moment how difficult obtaining such a license can be, what else is involved?

For starters, regulations regarding the forging of steel and molding of plastics. These are regulations not specific to firearms, though, because they apply across the board to all businesses working with molten metals and plastics. The same regulations apply to the manufacture of a 2L soda bottle as the polymer frame for a firearm. And the same regulations governing the forging of metals for the steel frames for a vehicle apply to the steel work for making a firearm.

The only reason to have onerous safety regulation would be defective firearms. Except firearms are almost never defective in manufacture. And when they are, it’s almost never in a manner that would endanger the person handling it. Unless the defect causes the firearm to fail to fire when you’re trying to use it in self defense… Typically if a firearm becomes defective, it’s due to improper maintenance or negligence by the owner.

Ammunition is a slightly different story simply because the risk of misfires and squibs is there, with the latter being far more dangerous. But both are extremely rare in the totality of cartridges manufactured. And anyone who owns a firearm should know how to deal with that.

The fact that firearms don’t have specific safety regulations doesn’t mean it’s a complete free-for-all. The legal concept of strict liability comes into play. This concept applies to the makers of power tools. What are the Federal safety standards regarding power tools? There likely aren’t any specific to power tools. Indeed in searching for the phrase (without quotes) “federal safety standards for power tools”, what are the first search results? OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And they’re unnecessary because it’s quite obvious that companies like Black and Decker and DeWalt make and will continue to make safe products. Because not doing so would be very, very bad for the future of both companies.

Same with firearms. Beretta hasn’t been around for over 500 years by making defective firearms and crappy products overall. Same with Springfield Armory, the first firearms manufacturer in the United States, and one routinely cited as being top notch with their pistols and rifles. Their reputation is well earned.

But even among the lesser-reputable brands, such as Hi-Point and Kel-Tec, you’re still extremely unlikely to find a defective firearm.

If TeddyGun.com was actually advocating for safety standards and regulations over the manufacture of firearms, they would know that such standards are largely not necessary. Indeed many advances in firearms safeties have come without any government regulation or oversight! The biggest example is making sure that firearms are “drop safe”, meaning it will not discharge if dropped while a round is chambered. Other safety features include firing pin blocks and other safeties that prevent the firearm from discharging without the trigger being pulled.

The firearms and ammunition manufacture markets are virtually entirely self-regulating. If anything, the firearms manufacture industry is actually a major testimony against the need for strict government oversight and regulation. People aren’t dying from poorly-manufactured firearms. They’re dying because people are intentionally pulling the trigger, with the muzzle pointed at themselves or someone else. Adding onerous regulations to the manufacture of firearms won’t change that.

And that isn’t TeddyGun’s motives either. Instead it’s purely about gun control:

Support efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people with Federal common sense gun laws like Universal Background Checks on all gun sales, Legalizing CDC Research on Gun Violence and Illinois common sense gun laws like State License for Gun Dealers, and the Lethal Gun Violence Order of Protection Act.

So then why are there so many safety standards around the manufacture of toys? Toys don’t fall under the legal standards of strict or vicarious liability. And the standards are intended to give the Federal government authority to punish noncompliance, along with establishing other penalties should death or injury result from noncompliance.

Firearm defects (i.e. a true accidental discharge) that result in the death or injury of another person are virtually non-existent. I’ve personally never heard of one, and I welcome any reports of such incidents.

Like virtually every other anti-gun group out there, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is merely misrepresenting the state of the law to pursue an agenda.

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