Nocera: Why can’t we childproof guns?

Nocera: Why can’t we childproof guns?

For nearly two months, my assistant, Jennifer Mascia, and I have been publishing a daily blog in which we aggregate articles about shootings from the previous day. Of all the stories we link to, the ones I find hardest to read are those about young children who accidentally shoot themselves or another child. They just break my heart. Yet Jennifer and I find new examples almost every day.

Partly, I react by thinking, “How can anyone be so stupid as to leave a loaded gun within reach of a small child?” But I also have another reaction. In 1970, Congress passed a law that resulted in childproofing medicine bottles. The Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates the paint used in children’s toys. State laws mandate that young children be required to use car seats.

So why can’t we childproof guns? In an age of technological wizardry — not to mention a time of deep sensitivity to the welfare of children — why can’t we come up with a technology that would keep a gun from going off when it is being held by a child? Or, for that matter, by a thief using a stolen gun? Or an angry teenager who is plotting to use his parents’ arsenal to wreak havoc in a mall?

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