Gun violence claims more than 30,000 lives and injures another 100,000 people annually in the United States. In recent years, an increasing number of those being killed are children. Even more alarming is the number of children doing the killing.
Gun control advocates have pushed for stricter safety standards since two teenagers shot to death 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado last year. This year, the voices of parents and grandparents across America joined the call for change after a 6-year-old boy shot and killed a little girl inside a Michigan elementary school.
The children who are killed are not the only victims. The emotional effects of violence and fear are as destructive as any bullet -- changing innocent lives forever.
One of the most powerful lobbying groups opposing stricter gun control laws is the National Rifle Association. Leaders of the NRA believe that restrictions on the manufacture and sale of guns will violate their members' Second Amendment rights. In some cases their concerns may be justified, but not all. A meaningful change cannot happen unless someone is allowed to step forward without being tripped. The NRA has extended its powerful foot in the path of such efforts.
Now, Smith & Wesson, the nation's largest maker of handguns, is willing to take that first step.
In an agreement announced on Friday, the government dropped the threat of legal action against the gun maker in return for a series of safety measures including child trigger locks and the development of smart-gun technology which can prevent anyone but the owner from firing the weapon.
There is still a great deal of litigation to go, but we believe the concept of adding trigger locks and safety technology to guns is as sensible as putting child-proof caps on medicine bottles. They are not there to violate user rights -- they are there to save young lives.
We urge our local NRA members, teachers, parents and grandparents to support these efforts. Call or write your congressman. If only one child pulls the trigger of a gun that doesn't fire and doesn't kill -- it's a step worth taking.