These locks are designed to immobilize firearm triggers. Many owners of firearms rely on these devices to prevent unintentional discharges. Although these locks seem like a logical invention to increase firearm safety, many express skepticism that they effectively make owning safer. On the contrary, some argue that they increase the risk of owning firearms.
Design and Construction
The design of a trigger lock is intended to immobilize a firearm's trigger, the part of a gun that the user retracts to cause the weapon to fire. Most designs consist of a metal shaft inserted through the weapon's trigger guard into a hole or slot in the other piece of the lock. The shaft is also placed behind the trigger purporting to prevent retraction. A pair of rubber cleats act like clamps to hold the shaft in place. Most designs feature a simple release such as button the user depresses.
However, some designs also feature additional locking mechanisms such as combination locks or keypads and perhaps even alarms. Since the United States has not adopted laws regulating the design of these locks, many different designs and levels of quality have emerged on the market. Consumers should take care to ensure that the locks they purchase are suitable for their particular firearms. Materials vary among locks from metal to plastic. Locks constructed of metal are generally sturdier and thus more preferable. Often, plastic locks are easily dislodged or broken. Lock materials also influence price with the metal locks typically more expensive. Prices usually vary from five to thirty-five or more dollars.
Although these locks purport to increase safety, many experts believe that they produce the opposite effect. First, many people overestimate the lock's effectiveness, believing that the locks completely prevent unintentional fire. No system is completely fail-safe and such complacency often leads to tragedy. Curious children frequently attempt to open locked items with incessant effort and often harm themselves doing so. Some liken the danger presented by trigger locks to so-called childproof medicine bottles, which children often successfully open. Even with a trigger lock in place, you should still lock your gun away where a child cannot reach it.
Most trigger locks will clearly warn users against attempting to place the lock on a loaded gun, but some people may forget that their guns are loaded at the time. Other locks may feature poor design and construction and thus may constitute further danger. For example, some are constructed so poorly that it is possible to retract the trigger even with the lock in place. Finally, others criticize trigger locks in that they increase the time required for the user of a firearm to use his weapon and thus inhibit its usage. In some critical situations, speed may be required for self-defense and having to fumble with a lock may cost the user valuable time.
Many people consider trigger locks to be a valuable tool that increases the safety of owning and using firearms. However, owing to a lack of governmental regulations, some designs do not ensure an adequate amount of protection and may be easily rendered ineffective. Consumers should also remember that even reliable locking mechanisms are frequently circumvented by children. Many people also contend that these locks inhibit the user of a firearm from being able to fire a weapon when needed in critical situations. Consumers should take care to choose locks which offer the maximum amount of protection balanced against the safety of the device.