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MARCH 5, 2001
6:40 PM
CONTACT:  Handgun Control
Statement by Sarah Brady on Behalf of Handgun Control Regarding the Shooting at Santana High School
WASHINGTON - March 5 - "Our hearts and prayers go out to the students, staff and their families of Santana High School. This is yet another example of the tragedies that ensue when children have easy access to guns. As we approach the second anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, Congress has still done nothing to prevent such shootings.

"While the details of this shooting are still emerging, we do know this: we can prevent such tragedies from happening. Whether a gun is taken from the home or purchased at a gun show or on the streets, it is simply far too easy for young people to get a hold of firearms in this country. Every day, we lose 10 young people to gunfire. Our rate of firearms deaths of children under the age of 15 is 12 times that of 25 other industrialized countries combined.

"I am disappointed by President Bush's statement on this shooting this afternoon. Yes, it is important to teach our children morals and values, but the most immediate way to make sure these shootings don't happen in the first place is to prevent children from having access to guns. I challenge President Bush to support the following:

-- Mandatory safety training for gun owners so that they learn the importance of storing their weapons out of the reach of children and learn how to store weapons properly;

-- Child access prevention laws, which hold gun owners responsible when a child gains access to their unsecured gun;

-- Closing loopholes in our laws, such as the gun show loophole, that enable juveniles and criminals to buy guns;

-- Child safety locks for every gun;

-- Safety standards for child safety locks -- and for guns. Guns remain specifically exempt from any federal safety regulations. Just last month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that most gun locks are easily defeated.

"A 1998 study conducted by the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence found that more than 40 percent of American homes with children also contain guns. And in 25 percent of those homes, guns are kept loaded and unlocked. That's why we need to educate gun owners that they must store their weapons unloaded and locked up, out of the reach of children.

"But responsibility doesn't just stop with the shooter and the gun owner. We need to hold the gun industry accountable for making guns that children and other unauthorized users can fire. Why do gun manufacturers continue to manufacture guns that don't have any safety features that would prevent the gun from firing in the wrong hands?

"In California, as in the rest of the country, it remains too easy for children to get guns. Handgun Control supports a measure now being considered by the California legislature that would require future handgun buyers to obtain a safety license by passing tests on the responsibilities of gun owners, the best way to secure handguns so children cannot get them, and basic safe handling of the weapon. A new California law that requires all guns sold in the state to have a state-approved child-safety lock to prevent children and other unauthorized people from using the gun takes effect on Jan. 1, 2002."


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