Two Thumbs Down for McCain's Gun Control Ad
by
Erich Pratt
(May 2001)

The bombs were dropping this Memorial Day holiday, as thousands of Americans filed into theaters to watch Pearl Harbor, the latest blockbuster to hit the big screen. But the bombs falling from Japanese planes were not the only ones that moviegoers witnessed.

Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona has appeared onscreen in many theaters, peddling a dangerous and very explosive propaganda -- thanks to an anti-gun group based out of Washington, D.C., which is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to run the political ad as a trailer in theaters this spring.

Urging parents to lock up their guns at home, Sen. McCain says "we owe it to our children to be responsible by keeping our guns locked up."

This might sound "responsible" at first blush, until one realizes this one-size-fits-all approach can be deadly.

The reason? People don't know exactly when they will wake up and find themselves under attack. Like the Japanese zeros, criminals do not phone ahead and tell their victims to prepare for an assault.

Locking up one's guns might sound to some like the "responsible" thing to do. But if, God forbid, you should have to use your gun in an emergency, you can be sure of one thing: the thug in your home will not have a trigger lock on his gun.

And neither should you, for locking up your safety can have serious consequences.

In California last year, two children died -- they were pitchforked to death by a crazed drug addict -- because a resident in the home could not access the household firearms in time. The guns were locked up in deference to California state law.

Just a few months prior to this tragedy, however, a San Francisco man survived an attack because he disregarded the California law effectively requiring him to lock up his guns.

A.D. Parker woke up one night to find a thug attacking him with a tire iron. Thankfully, Mr. Parker had not locked up his guns. He didn't have to fiddle around in the dark, looking for a trigger lock key or remembering a combination.

Parker simply had to grab his gun, point it, and shoot the intruder. That is why A.D. Parker is still alive today.

Americans use firearms almost 7,000 times a day in self-defense according to Dr. Gary Kleck, the highly acclaimed criminologist from Florida State University.

That means guns are used 60 times more often to save lives, than to take lives. But trigger locks can be deadly. Every second fiddling with a trigger lock in an emergency can mean the difference between life and death.

Maryland Governor Parris Glendening struggled for almost five full minutes to remove a trigger lock at a press conference last year. In an emergency, he would have been dead.

"But wait a minute," one might say. "Aren't there situations where guns should be locked up?"

Some parents might think so, and if they choose to lock away their safety that should be their own decision. Politicians like John McCain should not make that choice for them.

Before people decide they need to lock up their guns, they need to keep a broader perspective. According to the National Safety Council, children under the age of 14 have a greater chance every year of choking to death on things such as food (185), than they do of dying by accidental gun shots (142).

How often do you live in fear that the next peanut butter and jelly sandwich you serve your kids could be their last? You probably don't, and yet the sandwich could be more deadly than the gun sitting high up in your closet.

Why then do some people have such a tremendous fear of guns?

Quite frankly, they do so because there are politicians like John McCain who are scaring people to death, frightening them into locking up their best means of self-defense.

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America.