More than 40 leaders from across the United States -- mayors, county executives, police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and religious and civic leaders -- gathered in Washington to develop a founding vision and organizing framework for the Gun Safety Consortium. The group, convened by co-founders Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati, County Executive Steuart Pittman of Anne Arundel County MD, and Mayor Wade Kapszuciewicz of Toledo, represented diverse communities from 14 states, but found common ground on the following 10 points:
Gun theft presents a growing threat to public safety, both in the communities where thefts occur and in the cities where trafficked guns often end up. Public officials and law enforcement need multiple strategies to tackle this problem.
Gun theft (“gun grabs”) from police officers represents a threat to officer safety. Moreover, the threat of gun grabs from officers intensifies conflict situations.
In most law enforcement agencies, there are stories of police officers’ duty weapons being found and used by their children or other family members, with often tragic consequences.
Suicides using firearms represent by far the largest segment of gun-related deaths, and local communities need a variety of tools to reduce these numbers.
Unsecured guns in homes, vehicles, and businesses are a major underlying cause of all of these problems. If gun owners -- both civilian and law enforcement -- can be persuaded and equipped to keep all firearms fully secured 100% of the time, thousands of lives could be saved each year.
New products and technologies are a critical part of the solution. Gun safes represent the “gold standard” for secure storage, and their use should be widely encouraged. But more locking options are needed for gun owners -- particularly those who feel rapid access to a gun is important, and those who carry a gun outside the home. No single product or type of product will work for all market segments.
Guns with built-in user-authentication technology (or “smart guns”) hold great promise -- but aren’t yet available, and will take considerable R&D, testing and refinement before they are widely accepted in the market. When these products do reach the market, they should be available based on consumer choice, not mandated by government.
Locking devices that deter theft and allow rapid owner access to a weapon are available now and have the potential to save lives. The most important metric in evaluating these products is how consistently gun owners will actually use them. Millions of gun owners own cable locks; fewer than half use them consistently.
The private sector, including the existing gun industry, should invest in innovation and product development in these and other areas related to gun security and safety. Public-sector purchases represent a significant portion of the gun market and can drive innovation if properly organized.
Law enforcement officers should be equipped with state-of-the-art gun security technology. These devices must be carefully evaluated, just as law enforcement agencies evaluate firearms before making purchasing decisions. Given their knowledge and experience with firearms, law enforcement should conduct hands-on evaluation of locks, smart guns, and other security products -- those that can protect police officers and their families, as well as those that have the potential to save lives in their communities.