Remember all those lawn dart tragedies back in the '80s? Via the New York Times:
At least three victims have died.
That's right, three deaths and the Consumer Product Safety Commission took action, banning lawn darts from sale just in time for the holiday season that year.
''The commission today finally did what we should have done a long time ago,'' said another commissioner, Anne Graham. ''What limited recreational value lawn darts may have is far outweighed by the number of serious injuries and unnecessary deaths.''
Metal lawn darts are still banned from sale in the U.S. to this day. Guns on the other hand, as a consumer product, remain completely unregulated, and here's a glimpse of the accidental deaths and injuries they've caused (via Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence):
Between 2005 and 2010, almost 3,800 people were killed and over 95,000 people were injured in unintentional shootings in the U.S. Over 42,000 victims of unintentional shootings during this period were under 25 years of age, and more than 1,300 of these children and young adults died. As stated in an October 2012 study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, “Although unintentional or accidental shootings account for a small share of firearm related mortality and morbidity, these deaths and injuries are highly preventable through proper design of firearms.”
We're not even talking about gun safety laws like background checks, we're talking about product safety regulations—things like "magazine disconnect mechanisms" or "chamber load indicators," as you can read below.
Some firearms are equipped with a feature known as a “magazine disconnect mechanism” that prevents a firearm from discharging when the magazine is not attached. Other firearms are designed with a “loading indicator” that indicates when a gun is loaded. These features are important because a bullet can remain in the chamber even after the magazine is removed, leading a person to believe the gun is unloaded. Many firearms are still produced and sold without these safety features, however.
The only consumer product designed to kill is the only consumer product not regulated in any way for safety. That's how weak our gun safety measures are. So why hasn't the safety commission taken action? We have Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan to thank for that.
In 1972, a Congress still in the activist posture of the Great Society era was on the verge of creating a new government body with sweeping powers to regulate the safety of consumer products. The Senate version of the bill left open the possibility that the new Consumer Product Safety Act could apply to the most potentially un-safe consumer products of all: firearms and bullets. But a congressman slipped an obscure provision into the House version of the bill stating that any products covered by “Title 26, Section 4181 of the U.S. Code”—that is, guns—would be exempt. The congressman? John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, an avid hunter—and for years a member of the board of directors of the National Rifle Association.
There you have it. The same Consumer Product Safety Commission that banned lawn darts after three deaths in 1988 doesn't have the authority to require a life-saving mechanism like a load indicator, for instance, to be included on guns after nearly 4,000 accidental deaths in a five-year period. Unreal.