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Unbelievable but True Facts about Firearms' Deadly Exemption from
Health and Safety Standards
this: firearms cause more deaths a year than the 15,000 consumer
products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission combined.
In 1999 alone, 28,874 Americans died by gunfire and more than
twice that number were treated in emergency rooms for nonfatal
Firearms and tobacco are the only consumer products available
on the market not subject to any federal health and safety standards.
There's no question that guns-like prescription drugs, insecticides,
household chemicals, and many other products commonly found in
American homes-are inherently dangerous. You can't use them without
risking injury to yourself or to bystanders. Yet it's possible
to regulate guns for health and safety as we have regulated all
other inherently dangerous products. For more information, go
to Health and Safety
Standards for Everyday Products
Lack of health and safety regulation means that there is no way
to recall defective firearms, no way to apply minimum size standards
or mandate safety devices, no detailed data collection on deaths
and injuries, and no way to ban products that cause unreasonable
risk of injury or death.
No federal agency has the authority to restrict the availability-or
prevent the introduction onto the civilian market-of firearms
that pose a serious threat to public safety, such as 50 caliber
sniper rifles. These very high caliber, long range sniper rifles
were designed for military use and are capable of shooting down
aircraft and penetrating armor. Yet they are easier to buy than
handguns. For more information, go to the Violence Policy Center's
study One Shot, One Kill: Civilian Sales of Military Sniper
Rifles at (this link will take you out of www.regulateguns.org).
Many firearms contain defects in design or manufacture making
them likely to unintentionally discharge. Currently, the only
protection consumers have is to sue after someone has already
been injured or killed by a defective gun. Please see the fact
Flawed Firearms, CBS Evening News story "Fixing
a Fatal Flaw" at
and the press release "Remington's 'Safety Modification Program'
Inadequate for Protecting Consumers" at
(these links will take you out of www.regulateguns.org).
No federal agency has the power to set mandatory standards for
firearm safety devices such as trigger locks. In 2000 the Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducted informal tests on 32
gun locks-16 trigger locks and 16 cable locks. Most of the locks
failed. Some could be opened with a paperclip or a pair of tweezers,
and some opened just by banging the lock on a table or by hitting
it with a hammer. Many firearm safety devices on the market give
consumers nothing more than a false sense of security.
no federal agency regulates guns, there is no national data collected
on the total number of gun-related deaths and injuries other than
general data from death certificates. There is no reliable
way to get the total number of deaths from handguns, rifles or
shotguns-let alone the number of deaths and injuries by firearm
make and model.
The hazardous effects of firearms and ammunition on the environment
and public health are enormous, yet no agency can regulate excessive
lead exposure from shooting ranges. Numerous studies-since the
1970's-have documented that outdoor shooting ranges are major
sources of lead pollution in the environment , and that indoor
shooting ranges are significant sources of lead poisoning among
people who use them. For more information, go to the Violence
Policy Center's study Poisonous Pastime: The Health Risks of
Shooting Ranges and Lead to Children, Families and Environment
(this link will take you out of www.regulateguns.org).
The cost of providing medical care for firearm-related injuries
is estimated to be $4 billion a year-with much of the financial
cost passed on to private health insurance subscribers and taxpayers.
Would Health and Safety Regulation Reduce
Gun Deaths and Injuries?
and safety regulation would reduce gun suicides by: mandating
warnings on packaging about gun ownership and the increased risks
of suicide; developing a tracing system for guns most commonly
used in suicide, like the system currently used to trace guns
seized at crime, to identify patterns and restrict the most commonly-used
guns; and taking action against corrupt guns dealers so that guns
now obtained illegally can be intercepted before they reach the
hands of young people who often use them to commit suicide.
Health and safety regulation would reduce gun homicides by: restricting
the availability of certain types of guns and ammunition most
commonly used in homicides such as "Saturday Night Specials,"
new "sporterized" assault weapons, and other firearms
that pose a serious threat to public safety, such as .50 sniper
rifles; taking action against bad gun retailers who are knowingly
providing firearms to felons, juveniles, or other persons prohibited
from possessing firearms; and educating the public regarding the
link between access to firearms (especially handguns) and increased
risk of homicide.
and safety regulation would reduce unintentional gun deaths (accidents)
by: making sure firearm manufacturers recall, repair, or replace
defective guns, or refund consumers as necessary; evaluating and
requiring simple safety devices that currently exist to prevent
unintentional shootings, such as load indicators and magazine
and safety regulation would reduce gun-related crimes by: restricting
the availability of specific firearms or classes of firearms to
prevent unreasonable risk of injury to the general public-guns
such as the TEC-DC9 used in the Columbine massacre; allowing emergency
action to protect the public from "imminently hazardous"
firearm products; tightening the existing restrictions on certain
firearms--such as the assault weapons ban--without the need for
There is a Solution
Federation of America (CFA) is working to end the gun industry's
immunity from health and safety regulation. CFA and more than 120
national and state and local organizations support The Firearms
Safety and Consumer Protection Act (S. 330 and H.R. 671), which
would subject the gun industry to the same health and safety regulation
as virtually all other consumer products sold in America. S. 330
and H.R. 671 would give the Department of the Treasury consumer
protection authority to regulate the design, manufacture, and distribution
of firearms and ammunition, with the ability to:
minimum health and safety standards;
recalls and warnings;
data on gun-related deaths and injuries;
ban products when no other remedy is sufficient.
Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act would not limit the
public's access to guns for legitimate sporting purposes. Just a
regulation of pesticides did not lead to an outright ban on their
use, neither would expanding the Department of the Treasury's authority
result in a gun-free United States. This is what it would do:
the availability of guns most often used by criminals, and restrict
possession of guns by minors;
purchasers and gun consumers from products that present a serious
risk of injury because of a manufacturing defect, and;
gun death and injury by identifying firearms that are exceptionally
prone to use in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings,
and restrict availability of such guns.
the gun industry puts the focus where it belongs-on the conduct
of gun manufacturers. To learn more, please go to Top
Ten Questions about the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection
Act and CFA's other
Related Fact Sheets:
The Treasury Department