House suspends trigger lock requirement

/ Source: The Associated Press

The House on Thursday passed legislation that would suspend a new requirement that gun dealers provide a trigger lock with every handgun they sell.

The development came on the heels of a 230-191 vote late Wednesday to block the Justice Department from enforcing the trigger lock law. The vote came during debate on a spending measure funding the department's budget.

Despite the vote, suspension of the trigger lock mandate is not at all ensured. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., the top GOP negotiator on the underlying Justice Department spending bill, voted against the idea. The Senate voted more than 2-1 to impose the requirement and has yet to act on the bill.

The requirement mandating trigger lock sales has been in place since April and passed last October as part of a bill to block gun crime victims from suing firearms manufacturers and dealers for damages.

The Senate had voted 70-30 to impose the trigger lock sales mandate, which proponents said would prevent gun accidents and save lives, especially those of children who discover a parent's handgun.

But gun-rights advocates, led by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., countered that the new requirement is "equivalent to a tax on citizens who purchase firearms."

Forty-two Democrats joined with about one-fifth of House Republicans to pass Musgrave's amendment.

"This was an effort to reduce the number of Americans, thousands each year, who are killed or injured because guns are not locked up," said Sarah Brady, founder of the Brady Campaign to Combat Gun Violence. "Americans should ask representatives who voted to repeal the safety lock law why they've lost their senses."

A foe of the amendment, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., said that the $5 to $7 that a trigger lock costs is a small price to pay for preventing some of the 30,000 gun deaths that occur in the United States each year.

"Responsible and law-abiding gun owners do not need the government to tell them to be safe," countered Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.