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THE SIDEBAR: MARC WEBER TOBIAS

Gun Locks: Unsafe at any Caliber

A detailed report and videos that demonstrate design deficiencies in gun locks may be found at: http://download.security.org/gunlock_2007.pdf

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The eleven year old demonstrated the removal of three of the most popular trigger locks from a rifle in just a few seconds. The eighteenth month old examines the Project ChildSafe® cable lock for guns. We do not believe that either of these types of locks are secure as the primary method to protect weapons.

Gunlocks are designed to protect kids and keep them from gaining access to weapons. An extremely successful program was launched several years ago by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to promote gun safety and keep children away from guns. The U.S. Justice Department provided funding so that NSSF could administer a program to provide free gun locks to the public through law enforcement agencies around the country. A total of thirty-five million Project ChildSafe® locks have been produced.

We do not think these locks are secure enough and should not be used to provide the primary protection to immobilize a weapon. Poor quality locks rarely offer any protection, and this is a classic example. These devices are produced in China with cheap pin tumbler mechanisms that can be bumped open in seconds. The cables on some models are easily compromised.

The quality control in the case of at least one model, the GL710N (listed on the California DOJ website as having been produced by PCS) appears to be so poor that two out of three locks that we obtained from the Denver Police Department could be circumvented merely by twisting the cable. That’s right; simply hand twisting the cable caused it to pull loose from the lock housing! Could a kid have done that? Without question the answer is yes.

The real problem is the standards for these devices. NSSF rightfully responded to our concerns about security by stating that the locks meet California and ASTM requirements. In our view, the standards need to be updated so that they take into account real world attempts to open them, which just might involve the use of more than a paper clip or screwdriver! Kids can be clever, especially when it comes to guns.

The NSSF statement in their literature that the locks will not stop a “determined attack” does not really address the issue. Is their position really that anyone that wants to remove a lock from the gun will succeed, as opposed to the kid that half-heartedly pulls on the cable and if it does not come apart, then he gives up. Of course, in the case of the GL710N models that we tested that may be good enough!

We take an in-depth look at gun locks and the standards that are supposed to make them safe.

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