At Townhall: Mandating Gun Locks Can Have Unintended Consequences

Jun 12, 2019 | Featured

Dr. John Lott has a new piece at on the money put into the Texas state budget to advertise the need for the safe storage of guns.

Last year, right after a student fatally shot eight classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged Texans to lock up their firearms. The killer had stolen his father’s guns.

On the last night of the legislative session, the Republican-dominated state legislature approved a $1 million public safety campaign for gun storage. The Associated Press and other national media are playing this as a major test of NRA power in “gun loving Texas,” and they are waiting to see if Governor Greg Abbott will veto the spending. If the NRA can be defeated in Texas, that will animate Democrats’ hopes that it can be defeated anywhere.

We all want to do something, but more lives will be lost than saved if everyone locks up their guns.

Gun storage is primarily designed to prevent accidental gun deaths of children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Texas averaged 8 accidental juvenile gun deaths a year from 2013 to 2017. That’s about 8 percent of the number of such deaths nationwide. This is smaller than Texas’ more than 10 percent share of the under-18 population.

It must be a puzzle for gun control advocates since a significantly larger percent of Texas households have guns and the state doesn’t have the gun “safety” laws that other states have.

But now, legislators have gotten the idea that gun locks will help prevent mass public shootings. Very few shootings have involved guns stolen from parents. In 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza stole his mother’s gun, though she already kept it in a safe. So, a new law would have made no difference.

Since 2000, including Sante Fe, there have been three US mass public shootings by a juvenile killer. But the Red Lake, Minnesota attack was committed by a 17-year-old who killed his grandfather, an Indian Reservation police officer, and then took his service gun off his dead body. So, again, gun locks wouldn’t have stopped that attack either.

Unfortunately, mandating gun locks can have unintended consequences.

According to my research, which has been published in the Journal of Law and Economics and elsewhere, such laws have made it more difficult for people to successfully defend themselves and their families.  Criminals became more emboldened to invade people’s homes.  There were 300 more total murders and 4,000 more rapes occurring each year in the states with these laws.  Burglaries also rose dramatically.

That is not particularly surprising given that crime rises when we infringe on people’s right to self-defense.  Indeed, every place in the world that has banned guns has seen an increase in murder. . . .

The rest of the piece is available here.

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  1. David Loeffler

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation has led the way with Project Childsafe giving gun locks away to those who desire them for years. The locks are given to police and sheriff’s departments all over the country. As a NSSF member and NRA member, I have no problem with gun locks. It’s the mandatory use, to preclude guns being useful for defense that I object to.

  2. Zundfolge

    I don’t believe that the negative consequences of most gun control laws are indeed “unintended”.