Study objective: In the late 1960s, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms implemented the "factoring criteria," a set of minimum size and safety standards required for any handgun imported into the United States. These standards, however, were not applied to guns manufactured domestically. We determine whether extending the factoring criteria to all handguns sold in the United States, as has been proposed in Congress, would increase the likelihood that safety devices would be included in new handgun designs.
Methods: Imported and domestic handgun models produced in 1996 were examined to determine the prevalence of 4 passively acting safety devices on pistols and 1 passive safety device on revolvers. Domestic models were also scored against the factoring criteria.
Results: Compared with domestic pistol models, imported pistols were more likely to include a firing pin block (odds ratio [OR] 2.43; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.54 to 3.85) and a loaded chamber indicator (OR 1.59; 95% CI 0.98 to 2.56). Domestic pistol models that already met the factoring criteria were more likely to include a loaded chamber indicator (OR 12.05; 95% CI 2.74 to 53.02), a grip safety (OR 24.12; 95% CI 7.8 to 74.33), and a firing pin block (OR 4.92; 95% CI 2.35 to 10.29) than domestic models that did not meet the criteria.
Conclusion: Although pistol models that meet the factoring criteria are more likely to contain safety devices than those that do not, the net effect is modest. Thus, the factoring criteria alone are insufficient to ensure consistent incorporation of safety features into new handgun designs.