October 1999

Follow-Up: “A Liability Strategy”

I was torn when I initially proposed a more aggressive gun-sales program that would dry up supplies of firearms and ammunition for law-enforcement agencies in municipalities that are suing the gun industry (July 1999). On the one hand, I wanted gun makers to do something that pointed out the hypocrisy of the big-city mayors. Petulant? You bet. The flipside, which I recognized at the time, was that it was unfair to penalize the cops for their bosses’ actions.

I expected to hear thunder from law enforcement, criticizing my suggestions as irresponsible, which, in fact, they were. Instead, I’ve heard mostly whispers from policemen, constables, sheriffs, BATF and FBI trainers, military instructors, and prosecuting DAs. They and industry representatives have all quietly said, “We wish what you said would happen. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

On the other hand, readers and members of the industry had a lot to say in support. Here are some of their points:

• “It is incorrect that the industry should consider itself to be the focus of the ‘attack.’ The attack is directed toward each and every one of the millions of gun owners in our country. They are the ones with Second Amendment rights. The manufacturers certainly do not enjoy an Amendment that guarantees the right to manufacture arms for the people.”

• “If every gun owner would take ten minutes to write a letter to their representatives, I am confident this whole thing would go away. Of course, if every gun owner in America would vote—even just once come next November—the problem would be solved for generations to come.”

• “There is no way the industry will ever boycott cities or states. Why? Even if the factory agreed, most of the guns moving through the marketplace are sold through distributors. They are not about to turn down any business.”

• “Most cops support the Second Amendment. I don’t want to lose a single cop to a crook because the industry postured.”

• “Should we compromise on any point? Would it be worth it to include trigger locks with every gun, embrace one handgun a month and none until 21, X-day waiting periods, etc.? I can’t answer that until I know the answer to the following question: If we do, will the anti-gun groups go away and stay away? I don’t think they will.”

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for your comments and insights.

-Todd Woodard