Firearm Safety Locks:

Federal Agency Implementation of the Presidential Directive

GGD-98-201: Published: Sep 30, 1998. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal agencies' compliance with President Clinton's March 1997 directive regarding child safety locks for firearms, focusing on: (1) firearms that have been issued to or are used in an official capacity by employees at selected federal law enforcement organizations; and (2) selected federal law enforcement organizations' implementation of the presidential directive.

GAO noted that: (1) the three executive branch organizations GAO reviewed that are subject to the presidential directive--the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, and the National Park Service (NPS)--have issued about 72,000 firearms to employees, with Justice issuances accounting for about 49,000 of the total; (2) additionally, these organizations have authorized for official use about 26,000 personally owned firearms; (3) of this total, Justice authorizations accounted for about 23,000; (4) the Postal Inspection Service has issued about 2,000 firearms to employees and authorized about 400 personally owned firearms for official use; (5) the Capitol Police have issued approximately 1,100 firearms to officers but does not allow personally owned firearms to be used for official duties; (6) the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts had no readily available, centralized data showing the number of firearms issued to or used by federal judicial district officers; (7) Justice, Treasury, and NPS officials told GAO their organizations have taken appropriate steps to implement the presidential directive; (8) in implementing the presidential directive, these organizations are requiring that all firearms issued to employees, as well as personally owned firearms authorized for official use, be equipped with safety lock devices; (9) generally, these organizations did not require safety lock devices for firearms that are maintained in secure agency facilities and not taken home by employees; (10) GAO's review verified that these organizations have developed and taken actions to communicate a safety lock policy to their law enforcement officers; (11) the Postal Inspection Service has voluntarily developed and taken actions to communicate a safety lock policy to its law enforcement officers and has purchased safety lock devices for all permanently issued and personally owned firearms authorized for official use by its inspectors; (12) the Postal Inspection Service does not require safety lock devices for firearms that are maintained in secure agency vaults and not taken home; (13) the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has provided the 94 federal judicial districts guidance on the use of firearms; and (14) however, according to the Administrative Office, each district has the discretion to establish its own policies, and the Administrative Office had no readily available summary or overview of current policies and practices in all districts.

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