Our neighboring state of Maryland made headlines this past week when President Clinton joined state officials there for the signing of new firearm safety legislation. The Maryland legislation includes a mandate for built-in safety locks on handguns.
The National Rifle Association has scorned the new law, while traditional advocates of gun control see it as a victory.
The editorial board of the Telegram has consistently defended the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. We have also held that enacting reasonable and prudent legislation to enhance the public safety is the appropriate responsibility of our elected lawmakers.
Handgun manufacturers may be inclined to say the new law adds costly features to their products. Gun owners may view the law as hampering their personal choice.
We think both objections fall short. The trigger lock does not prevent a legal owner from using his property or firing the gun under appropriate circumstances. Instead, the device makes it difficult or impossible for someone other than the legal owner to use the weapon.
When auto seatbelts were introduced in this country, there were some drivers who felt that their personal choice was compromised. At the time, automobile makers objected to the cost of the added equipment. Several decades of required seatbelt use have demonstrated the public benefit of that legally-mandated change in a product.
We are confident that the public benefits of the trigger locks will outweigh any inconvenience to gun owners.
For the sake of the many innocent victims of handguns, we hope Congress and handgun makers get behind this reasonable requirement that will help to prevent future tragedies in our homes and communities.