The Gun Industry Exposed
February 4, 2003 8:47 AM   Subscribe

The Gun Industry Sins Exposed? (nyt - registration required)

But Mr. Ricker, who has been working for more than two decades in the gun industry, including a stint as a lawyer for the N.R.A., said the gun makers had long known that "the diversion of firearms from legal channels of commerce to the black market" takes place "principally at the distributor/dealer level."
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posted by lilboo (19 comments total)
So if an Amaco Gas Station sells a six pack of High Life to an underage kid, it is fault of Miller Brewing?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:06 AM on February 4, 2003

Glad you asked, Steve. Yes, it is, if Miller Brewing knows about such a persistent problem with this station and does nothing to stop it from getting Miller beer - the exact analogy to the situation described (cf. tobacco companies and underage sales).

But let's get real: An underage kid getting a six pack of beer is not analogous, in terms of the threat to society, to a known criminal getting a gun. Therefore, the gun manufacturers have a greater responsibility to stop it from occurring than would Miller Brewing.

Glad to clear that up for ya.
posted by soyjoy at 9:19 AM on February 4, 2003

You'll have to pry my can of Sam Adams from my cold, beer-soaked, dead hands
posted by matteo at 9:57 AM on February 4, 2003

I agree with soyjoy. This is more than just "bad people get guns, so those who make guns are to blame". This is about the gun industry having full knowledge that dealers are selling guns to those who lawfully cannot own them and not only doing nothing about it, but making conscious efforts to avoid doing anything about it for fear of having to take responsibility.

After the Columbine mess it came out that the industry was producing far more guns than needed to satisfy the legitimate market. Add this story on top and you don't have a very pretty picture. The industry is a) making far more guns than the legal market needs and b) purposefully avoiding cracking down on dealers which they know are feeding guns into the illegal market (criminals and minors). This is deplorable.

This is an industry which produces items which only purpose (in the case of hand guns, the problematic weapon being discussed here) is to kill other people. I think society has a right to demand a little more oversight of and from this industry.

On preview: Sam Adams comes in cans?
posted by botono9 at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2003

"Corrupt dealers" make it easy for criminals and juveniles to buy guns

When I think of a dealer, a crook comes to my mind often.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:09 AM on February 4, 2003

Sam Adams comes in cans?

Can, bottle, I'm usually too drunk to tell the difference
posted by matteo at 10:38 AM on February 4, 2003

Finally, the "smoking gun" that will blast the case open to the light of truth. (How's that for mixing metaphors?)
posted by mygoditsbob at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2003

So... what you're saying is that the Feds should enforce CURRENT laws instead of looking for solutions du jour (registration, waiting periods, limits, etc)
posted by Witold at 10:56 AM on February 4, 2003

So everyone here is in favor of massive government oversight of all traffic flowing through the Internet backbones because those backbones know that certain corrupt ISPs aren't checking all their clients to see who's hosting child pornography, right?

That analogy is a little more spot-on in terms of potential harm to society (child porn, people getting shot), the role of the Internet backbones is EXACTLY analogous to that of the major gun manufacturers, and what people are suggesting needs to be done about it mirrors the Total Information Awareness phenomenon.

But wait, we all know TIA is bad, right? So when it's guns, it's bad, but when it's child porn, it's not?

No offense, but speaking as one of the most viciously hard-left people frequenting this site outside of fold_and_mutiliate, the liberal stance towards guns is not only hypocritical but reeks of soccer-mom levels of intelligent response or Bush's 'Axis of Evil' BS. Steve_at_Linnwood is right in spirit here, even if his analogy was poor. The gun manufs supply a product with legitimate non-killing-people purposes (hunting, sport shooting) and what happens beyond that point is none of their business - that's the exact definition of professionalism as practiced by the Internet backbones allowing Peter Townshend to look at pictures of kids getting touched. Do those corrupt firearms dealers need to be smacked down? Do people hosting child pornography? Absolutely yes to both.

Your Internet backbone's 'see no evil, hear no evil' approach is what allows you to get those great MP3s on your harddrive. Greater voluntary efforts to stamp that out are quite possible, but they don't engage in them and that's why you still have a modicum of freedom or privacy to do what you want every time you open a browser. People who want massive oversight of both gun manufacturers and the Internet are throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and those who want just one or the other are practicing a very self-serving form of hypocrisy.
posted by Ryvar at 11:03 AM on February 4, 2003

Ryvar - Unless you're a member of a well regulated militia, you can't draw a direct parallel between an internet backbone (Tool for exercising speech) and selling a gun. The constitutional analysis for speech is different than the analysis of the right to bear arms.
posted by mygoditsbob at 11:10 AM on February 4, 2003

Freedom in America! Courtesy of people with guns that wern't afraid to use them!
posted by LowDog at 11:15 AM on February 4, 2003

The gun manufacturers are producers of guns - they are the first tier of the gun industry and unless you're a major government do not sell to non-reseller parties. Everybody else just picks up a few bucks by reselling at a slightly higher price in order to make themselves money. It's at the latter level where crime occurs, not the former.

Similarly, Internet backbones are producers of communication - they are first tier of the communications industry and unless you're a major government/institution do not sell to non-reseller parties. Everybody else just picks up a few bucks by reselling at a slightly higher price in order to make themselves money. It's at the latter level where crime occurs, not the former.

Note the parallel here? Punish the bad resellers, the bad ISPs, that's where the crime is.
posted by Ryvar at 11:21 AM on February 4, 2003

Guns don't kill people, MP3s kill people.
posted by archimago at 11:25 AM on February 4, 2003

Child porn kills the victims' lives.
posted by Ryvar at 11:36 AM on February 4, 2003

one of the most viciously hard-left people

Ryvar with the above comments I would never consider you far left just focussed & centered with your views. Nicely put.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:38 PM on February 4, 2003


National Highway System = Internet Backbone
Gun Manufacturers = Bad ISPs
Bad Resellers = Kiddie Porn Sites

Okay, under this analysis I agree.
posted by mygoditsbob at 12:38 PM on February 4, 2003

Similarly, Internet backbones are producers of communication

Yes, that situation is similar in terms of the structure of distribution. But it fails as an analogy because it is dissimilar to gun sales in crucial ways. For one thing, guns directly kill people; "communication" does not abuse children. There's a major step missing there that you ellided. For another thing, the issue is not the sale of guns to people who may then later become criminals, but to people who already are. For the purposes of your analogy this would be limited to ISPs setting up kiddie-porn rings (the analogue for a loaded gun) for known, registered, child-molesting sex offenders.

And Witold, as you already know, it's not "instead of" but "in addition to." One solution "du jour" doesn't preclude the others in any logical way.
posted by soyjoy at 12:52 PM on February 4, 2003

I think the issue, although it is not clearly stated, is that the manufacturer had knowledge/evidence that the reseller was selling guns to the black market and did nothing with this knowledge, like report it to the authorities. I don't think they would be held responsible IF they reported it, now I think they are as guilty as any other witness of a crime who failed to report it.
posted by Nauip at 1:37 PM on February 4, 2003

Ryvar I'd have to agree with others in that your analogy is pretty bad.

Gun manufacturers should not KNOWINGLY sell their products to dealers who are dealing on the Black Market. I can't think of any ISPs who knowingly sell Internet Services to kiddie porn sites.

Neither Gun Manufacturers nor ISPs should be responsible for the tracking of their products once it has been LEGALLY sold to the end user. However they should both be responsible that their sale to the end user is both legitimate and legal.
posted by aaronscool at 1:46 PM on February 4, 2003

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