Are Guns Consumer Goods?

On Christmas Eve last year, Ann Marie Crowell's 12-year-old son Brian was killed. A classmate accidentally shot him while playing with his family's handgun. The boy told police he had emptied the weapon before pointing the gun at Brian, but one bullet was still in the chamber.

"Losing a child," says Crowell, "it's not supposed to be. This was totally senseless...it was a preventable death."

The gun used in the shooting death of Brian Crowell was a Saturday night special, a cheap handgun that costs about $80 and is prone to jam, misfire and even explode.

Massachusetts lawmakers have talked about regulating these handguns for years, but the gun lobby never allowed the debate to get very far. But the Massachusetts State Attorney General has found a controversial way around the legislature. He's tapped consumer protection laws -- which impose tough manufacturing standards on everything from clothing to toy guns -- and has applied them to real guns.

That means 30 types of guns will be subjected to safety tests and child-proofing trigger lock laws. Attorney general Scott Harshbarger's believes most Saturday night specials will fail the tests effectively banning them from sale.

"This is a ban of defective products just like we ban defective cars, ban defective baby rattles, defective toy pistols," says Harshbarger. "Absolutely that's what we're doing. Those are common sense provisions."

The gun lobby says guns shouldn't be regulated like consumer products.

"I think he is abusing his authority," says gun lobbyist Mike Yacino. "We have a legislative process for these types of issues." Gun manufacturers plan to fight the new regulations in court all summer. Ann Marie Crowell vows to be there adding her voice to the debate because her son cannot.


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