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Gun storage law won't violate rights

Gun storage law won't violate rights

Law named for local boy killed by unsecured gun

This is not a Second Amendment issue.

It's not a Safe Act issue. It's not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. It's not going to prevent anyone from owning a gun or from using their weapons to hunt, or shoot targets, protect their homes from intruders or defend themselves.

It's purely and simply a safety issue. The safety of our children. The safety of people considering suicide. The safety of domestic violence victims. The safety of people victimized by stolen guns.

Nicholas Naumkin of Wilton would have celebrated his 17th birthday on May 30. He never made it to his 13th. That's because he was killed just before Christmas 2010 when he was accidentally shot to death with a handgun he and his friend found in an unlocked dresser drawer.

Nicholas's Law (A0053/S2291) would require that gun owners keep guns locked in a secure storage container or equipped with a trigger lock when the gun is "out of his or her immediate possession or control." Violation would be an E-felony.

The key phrase here is “immediate possession or control.” If you're sleeping with your gun under your pillow at night so you can shoot a burglar, it doesn't have to be locked up. If you're carrying it around on your shoulder while stalking a deer, it doesn't have to be locked up. If it's in your purse while you're walking down a dark alley, it doesn't have to be locked up.

But the law might prevent a depressed teenager or a curious 12-year-old from dying. Easy access to guns is a major contributor to suicides, accidental deaths and domestic violence deaths. Suicides easily make up the highest percentage of gun deaths in the U.S. — about 61 percent. Homicides are next at 35 percent. Out of the nearly 600 gun deaths attributed to accidental shootings in 2011, about 100 of the victims were under age 18 and about half of those were under age 13.

Nicholas's Law has passed the Assembly and is being considered in the Senate. Local Assembly members Carrie Woerner, Jim Tedisco and Angelo Santabarbara voted against it. Locally, only Phil Steck, a former assistant district attorney, voted in favor of it. (Maybe he knows a little something about the topic the others don’t.)

Opponents put up the standard flawed gun-nut rhetoric. It would take away the right to bear arms. (Courts have ruled that safe-storage laws don't violate the Second Amendment.) People wouldn't be able to protect themselves. (Yes they would.) Hunters couldn't get a cup of coffee without being subject to criminal charges. (Yes they could.) Antique-gun collectors would go out of business. (No they wouldn't.) Blah blah blah.

None of the arguments against this common-sense safety bill hold water. If you own a gun, you're responsible for keeping it safe. It’s that simple. How on Earth could anyone be opposed to that?

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