Bad anti-gun ‘lock up’ bill: No real problem or even factual basis

Dan Lucas_July 2012_BW

by Dan Lucas

During the Oregon Legislative session that ended earlier this month, two Portland-area Democrats introduced a bill (SB 945) to make it a crime for a gun owner if a minor got access to a gun that wasn’t locked up.  KATU reported that a violation “could be punished with up to a year in prison or a $6,250 fine.” The bill also would have prohibited anyone convicted of the new law from owning a gun for 5 years.

Fortunately the bill died in committee.

It’s not clear what the impetus for this bill was, but it doesn’t appear to have been based on any real problem or even any factual basis.

KATU reported that one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-NW Portland/Beaverton), said the bill was “about keeping guns out of the hands of children who are often the victim of unintentional injury or death from misuse of firearms that are left unsecured.” So her major concern was that children were often the victim of unintentional death from misuse of firearms that are left unsecured.

That concern is not supported by facts.

According to data from the State of Oregon – Oregon Health Authority – Public Health Division, there has been an average of one death per year in Oregon of a minor as a result of a gun accident – based on the most recent 5 years’ available data. And it’s only one due to rounding – it’s actually less than one death a year (0.8). That’s less than one death per year out of 873,000 Oregonians under 18. In 2 of the 5 years there were 0 deaths in Oregon of a minor as a result of a gun accident.

Causes of children's accidental deaths in Oregon_2015

(click to enlarge)

As a physician, Sen. Steiner Hayward has to be aware this information exists. The quality of her legislation would be greatly enhanced if even minimal research was done – to ensure she’s introducing need-based and factually-based ideas and not just pursuing agenda-based ideas.

If she wants to pursue ways to reduce the average of 59 total accidental deaths of minors per year (out of 873,000 minors in Oregon), she should pursue motor vehicle crashes (average of 21 per year), suffocation (average of 14 per year), drowning (average of 11 per year), fires (average of 3 per year), poisoning-including medications (average of 3 per year) and falls (average of 2 per year). Each of those causes more accidental deaths each year of minors in Oregon than gun accidents.

There is no rational reason to have introduced this legislation. And then to try to punish gun owners by up to a year in prison? Would Sen. Steiner Hayward apply that same standard to all the other causes of accidental deaths of minors? Up to a year in prison for someone who didn’t have their medications locked in a safe? Up to a year in prison for someone who didn’t have a functioning fire extinguisher on hand? Her legislation was clearly not about making children safer.

And speaking of keeping children safer, what about children who have been able to protect themselves using firearms?

In October 2012 a 12-year-old Oklahoma girl was able to defend herself when a 32-year-old stranger broke into her home. Time reported that the girl “was home by herself when a man rang the doorbell to her Bryan County, Okla., home. She didn’t answer, so the trespasser walked to the back of the house and kicked open a door.” The girl got the family’s gun and hid in a bathroom closet. Time reported “the intruder worked his way through the house and to the bathroom, and he was turning the doorknob to [the closet where she was hiding] when she fired through the door.” The intruder was hit in the shoulder, which scared him out of the house. He was arrested a few blocks away and taken to a hospital. Afterwards, the 12-year-old girl told ABC News “I think it’s going to change me a whole lot, knowing that I can hold my head up high and nothing can hurt me anymore.”

More recently, back in January of this year, an 11-year-old Michigan girl who was home alone was able to defend herself with a shotgun from a 53-year-old felon who broke into her home, and then forced his way into the locked bathroom where she was hiding. The local newspaper reported “When the male suspect forced his way into the bathroom, the girl reportedly aimed the shotgun at him, at which point he fled.”

Children like these should not be denied the ability to protect themselves.

To read more from Dan, visit

Please click here for a PDF version of the table in this article (contains working hyperlinks to sources)


UPDATE (7/27/2015): I was able to locate a source of data on accidental injuries in Oregon (that required hospitalization). The age bands available do not allow for a breakdown by minors only (0-17), and so the injury data in the table below is for ages 0-24. For the most recent data available (2010-2012), there were an average of 19 firearm accidental injuries a year for ages 0-24 – out of 1.23 million Oregonians aged 0-24. The top 5 causes of accidental injuries for ages 0-24 were falls (avg of 636 per year), motor vehicle traffic (avg of 458 per year), poisoning (avg of 269 per year), struck by/against (avg of 139 per year) and other transportation (avg of 123 per year). 

Oregon Accidental Injuries Requiring Hospitalization 2010-2012_Age 0-24

(click to enlarge)

  • GObill sizemore

    It is with great consistency that big city Democrat politicians ignore the many stories of lives being saved by access to firearms. Sure, doing so is blatantly dishonest, but with the mainstream media consistently and predictably failing to point out their disingenuousness, liberal Democrats are able continue their campaign of dishonesty and deception with complete impunity.

    • conservatively speaking

      Write and right on!

  • Jack Lord God

    None of this is about safety. Not the background checks or this dopey gun lock law. Essentially you have the same thing as people who support stop and frisk policies whenever they see too many black youths together. It’s fear based upon ignorance, so let’s have a policy of harassment to hopefully move them along. People need to start calling these people out for who they are – they are simple bigots who don’t particularly like gun owners and leap to conclusions based upon nothing but their own ignorance.

    • conservatively speaking

      Omen and amen.

  • Eric Blair

    You forgot to mention how many injuries occur every year from minors having access to guns. Accidental?

    Nationwide, it appears that there are 10,000 injuries and deaths per year.

    • Fred Ross

      Eric Blair, why is it that whenever “statistics” are quoted by someone who is anti Second Amendment, they’re always “quoted” in round numbers? Have you really ever done any statistical analysis?
      The quoted article doesn’t take into account that a lot of those injuries are in the age group most commonly involved with gangs, and gang members can hardly by lumped in with your neighborhood child when it comes to any sort of violence, let alone those associated with the use of firearms.
      As a retired Law Enforcement Executive, I can tell you that I’ve seen more lives saved by the presence of a firearm than taken by their use. I handled calls where a good citizen with a firearm most likely saved many lives, but it was never reported in any of the news organizations, since it wasn’t “news” to them, but then that’s a subject for another time.

      • Eric Blair

        “Eric Blair, why is it that whenever “statistics” are quoted by someone who is anti Second Amendment, they’re always “quoted” in round numbers? Have you really ever done any statistical analysis?”

        I was simply raising a question that I feel is valid. Don’t you think in a discussion about this legislation that it would be important to take into account injuries along with deaths? I’m sorry if that point got you upset.

        Once it has been decided that, yes, injuries should be taken into account, then it is important to look at exactly what those statistics mean, and I think you bring up some valid points.

        As for being anti-second amendment, you’re just assuming. And we all know what happens when you assume (and, actually, it has nothing to do with me). It may surprise you to find out that I’m not anti-second amendment, and I have enjoyed shooting on the few times that I have.

        However, if you have children in the household, especially young children, don’t you think it is wise and responsible to have a gun safe or trigger locks or to store the gun(s) in a place where they aren’t accessible to them? The NRA believes that is true.

        • Fred Ross

          Eric Blair,
          You’re correct, I shouldn’t have assumed anything in your post. With that said, I’ve seen many numbers pulled out of thin air that are presented as facts, when in fact they aren’t facts at all. My career demanded that I work with facts, so it’s a sore point with me when I see numbers that are always even. For a statistic to be genuine, there would be a name attached to each and every numerical value, but they hardly ever are.
          Yes, both sides need to be presented in a fair discussion. I also very strongly believe that education, particularly safe firearm handling education, is paramount in preventing negligent injuries and death. Neither of my children ever touched my guns while growing up without me present, and that was due to starting their education while very young and with ongoing education as well. When I was a young cop, I couldn’t afford a gun safe and trigger locks didn’t exist. Both my son and daughter have told me as adults that they never even thought of touching my firearms because I had instilled in them the knowledge of what they were capable of. When I came home from the graveyard shift, my duty belt was hung on the back of a chair in my bedroom, and was undisturbed. Is that negligent? In todays namby pamby society, it probably would be considered so, but I grew up in a time when people were taught to think for themselves and to take care of themselves, not rely on the government to tell them what they should, and shouldn’t do. Those who hate firearms won’t even consider safe handling education being allowed in “institutes of learning”. The Eddy Eagle program from the NRA teaches children to “don’t touch, get an adult”, but that’s not allowed in most school districts.
          I could go on and on, but I won’t, since I think I’ve made my point. As for the proposed legislation, which fortunately failed, it had nothing to do with safety. It was about control, plain and simple.

          • Eric Blair

            The numbers were even because I was giving a general summation. I should have said around.

    • Hi Eric – I just hadn’t done the research to find where there was data on accidental injuries in Oregon. I found a source (update above) – and it makes an even more compelling case for Sen. Steiner Hayward’s concerns not being supported by facts, and for there being no rational reason for having introduced SB 945. For example, the data (from the State of Oregon) shows more than ten times the number of accidental injuries caused by poisoning than by firearms. There were more accidental injuries caused by overexertion than by firearms in Oregonians aged 0-24!

  • DougW

    The latest legislation for gun control is payback to Bloomberg for campaign support during the last round of elections. If any of the groups for so called gun safety were actually focused on safety they would be supporting the enforcement of legislation we’ve had around for decades, not trying to disarm law abiding citizens.