Haunting memories of many accidental gun deaths energised a retired police sergeant to invent a device which he believes could prevent 505 avoidable gun deaths each year.
|Retire sergeant Mike Burns demonstrates his |
Retired Tinicum Township police sergeant Mike Burns developed a device which would avoid accidental semi-automatic handgun discharge and as soon as he secures funding he will get it into production.
Burns said he spent five years perfecting his ‘Trigger Shepherd’, a plastic moulding that fits to the shape of a pistol.
The device covers a firearm’s magazine and trigger area, but it leaves the pistol’s slide and magazine release exposed. When the device is in place, it is impossible to pull the trigger when unloading or reloading any semi-automatic weapon, Burns said.
“One core teaching in handgun safety is ‘if you don’t touch the trigger the gun won’t go off’. If you use my invention correctly, you won’t touch the trigger.”
Burns said he would like to see the Trigger Shepherd included with new gun sales, especially new gun owners, as a safety precaution when loading, unloading, cleaning and storing.
A cable gun lock can also be added to ensure the weapon is safely stored at home, Burns said.
“After coming up with the idea I would cut plastic Windex bottles to fit my personal handguns until I got the correct configuration.”
|When the device is in place, it is impossible to pull the trigger when unloading or reloading any semi-automatic weapon, Burns said.|
Over the last five years, he has spent more than $35,000 developing and engineering the device, including legal fees and patent. He is now seeking funding to get it into production.
“They are not on the market because to get them there it would take the production of more moulds costing about $15,000 each - separate moulds to cover different sizes of semiautomatic handguns.
“I simply do not have the capital for that.”
He said he has been looking for a company to license his device, but he has not had any luck so far.
“No one will look at it seriously until a large police organization or similar group will recommend it.”
While there is agreeance this device could be useful, gun users are split on its future potential.
Former US Army Special Forces officer Don Bendell said if the device is inexpensive enough it would be an excellent product to help prevent gun accidents.
“I can also see how a similar product could be developed for revolvers,” he said.
“I would approach gun manufactures … and I do not see why they would not jump on this idea.”
Outdoor writer Anne Vinnola said she sees potential for the Trigger Shepherd in classrooms, to ensure each gun is unloaded, but she doubts it would help when teaching new gun owners firearm safety.
“I see this as a problematic device as far as teaching proper gun safety to new gun owners. [It] gives the new shooter a false sense of safety and one more thing to have to think about in the use of a firearm,” she said.
Stanford Children’s Health revealed 40 children died from unintentional firearm injuries in 2004. And more than three million children in the U.S. live in households where firearms, at times, are kept loaded and unlocked.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 505 people died from gun accidents in 2013, and 16,864 people were unintentionally injured from firearms.