Regulate Guns as a Risk Item, Group Says

AN anti-violence coalition has called for a ban on sales of new handguns and tighter regulation on all guns, which it said were as unregulated as teddy bears and toasters..

The Violence Policy Center, an advocate of tough gun laws, said in a major study financed by Rolling Stone magazine that guns should be treated like other consumer goods that pose risks.

``Toasters, teddy bears, trucks, or guns - which product is virtually unregulated?'' asked Kristen Rand on Feb. 17. She's counsel of the policy center located here. ``The answer, surprising to most people, is guns.''

She said ``the conclusion of our study, `Cease Fire,' is that the time has come to hold the gun industry to the same standards we apply to manufacturers of lawnmowers and lawn darts (a toy),'' Ms. Rand said. ``The result would be a significant reduction in firearms violence.''

Broad new powers should be given to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to effectively regulate the private arms industry, officials said.

At present ATF cannot impose safety standards on guns made in the United States. It cannot ban domestic guns nor recall defective guns, according to the center.

Center officers denied they wanted to ban all firearms. Sporting shotguns and rifles would remain for sale for hunting and other sporting uses, they said.

``Our proposal does, however, call for a ban on the sale of new handguns because the risks associated with these products far outweigh any benefits,'' said Rand.

In 1992, 35,000 Americans were killed by firearms in murders, suicides, and accidents. Only car and truck accidents surpassed guns as a cause of fatal injuries. By 2003, guns will likely surpass cars as a killer, the report said.

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