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Letter: Children’s Safety Comes First

To the Editor:

It’s time to put children’s safety before gun owners’ rights.

This is not a question of violating the Second Amendment. Before you quit reading because you own guns, consider this: The Supreme Court already ruled in D.C. v. Heller that the right to bear arms, while upheld, “is not unlimited.” Many of our freedoms are, in fact, limited by legislation, such as seat belt laws for children, child-proof medicine dispensers, lead-free paint in the home and fireproof children’s clothing. Why can’t we also embrace gun-safety bills, one of which is now in the Vermont House, to make our homes safer for children, too?

The technology to improve safe gun storage already exists, from trigger locks to biometrics that prevent a gun from being fired by a child. If you follow national reporting on gun safety, you know that there is an accidental shooting by a child resulting in injury or death every day.

The reason there are no laws protecting children from guns, no national registry for gun owners, no limits to keeping unlocked guns in the home, can be summed up in three words: National Rifle Association. The NRA has lobbied against any regulation of deadly weapons as an infringement on our rights. The NRA opposed the Supreme Court hearing the Heller case out of fear that the outcome would be against the its interests (Legal Times, July 30, 2007). What about the interests of keeping our children safe from guns in the home?

On April 6, Hartford will hold a hearing on an article proposing gun safety, Article 9. If the measure passes, Hartford will join every other Upper Valley community that has voted and sent the message to Montpelier: It’s time to put our children’s safety before the absolute right to keep loaded and unlocked guns in the home. The annual meeting will be held at the Hartford High School gym at 10 a.m. Organized opposition from NRA absolutists is expected. Mothers, fathers and grandparents also need to be there to show support for our children.

Don McCabe