How gun-makers shrugged off illegal sales

Testimony from liability lawsuits shows they were reluctant to volunteer help in curbing criminal purchases.

By Jason Notte May 29, 2013 7:22AM
Ruger pistols copyright Getty ImagesThe continued refrain of the gun industry since the shootings in Newtown, Conn., has implored the nation to enforce existing gun laws rather than impose new ones.

But gun-makers didn't like the old laws so much a decade ago, and they have used new ones to shield themselves from accountability.

The New York Times recently dug into a pile of transcripts from a series of liability lawsuits filed before 2005 -- when Congress passed a law protecting gun manufacturers from such suits -- and found the weapons manufacturers consistently opposed monitoring the dealers and distributors that sell their firearms to the public, beyond the most basic requirements of the law.

As Charles Guevremont, the president of gun-maker Browning, said: "That's not for us to enforce the law."

On Tuesday, The Times published testimony from transcripts that were labeled as confidential and packed away in archives at law firms and courthouses around the country. As the paper discovered, not only are gun manufacturers still unwilling to voluntarily prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands, but lobbying by gun-rights groups has restricted the government's use of gun-sale tracing since the lawsuits began and has made it difficult to enforce existing laws.

Limits on multiple gun sales to a single buyer, a major issue in most of the lawsuits, is still a contentious topic as the gun industry is in court fighting a new requirement that dealers report such rifle sales under certain circumstances. In the testimony, most gun industry executives appeared to feel little or no responsibility for monitoring such behavior.

A Glock executive, for example, testified that he would maintain a business relationship with a gun dealer indicted on charges of violating firearms laws, because "this is still America" and "you're still innocent until proven guilty." The president of Sturm, Ruger & Co. (RGR) shrugged off police traces of guns back to the company's distributors, saying they "wouldn't show us anything."

Asked whether his company tried to learn if dealers were illegally trafficking guns on the black market, a Taurus International executive responded, "I don't even know what a gun trafficker is."

MKS Supply owner Charles Brown, whose company is the only distributor of an inexpensive brand of gun that frequently turned up in criminal investigations, said he never looked at trace requests from federal officials to see which of his dealers frequently sold guns used in crimes.

More than 30 cities, counties or states filed suit against gun-makers beginning in the late 1990s, charging that the industry was negligent, or willfully blind, in its sales practices. It was a tactic similar to the one used in successful suits against tobacco companies -- but to far lesser effect in this case.

More on moneyNOW

May 29, 2013 10:39AM
May 29, 2013 10:44AM
"....and found the weapons manufacturers consistently opposed monitoring the dealers and distributors that sell their firearms to the public, beyond the most basic requirements of the law. "

"As Charles Guevremont, the president of gun-maker Browning, said: "That's not for us to enforce the law."



Duh, its law enforcement's job to enforce the laws. Its for the manufacturer to FOLLOW the law.

May 29, 2013 10:45AM
AG Holder knows how to get around the gun laws to sell them illegally.
May 29, 2013 12:06PM
It is not the job of any manufacturer to enforce any law. The law requires that dealer follow guidelines, not manufacturers. Jim Beam and Jack Daniels are not held accountable when a Circle K sells to a minor.
May 29, 2013 12:02PM

You are not going to get the press off Obama by this ruse.The laws on the books need to be enforced,

not new ones written by moronic democrats that believe a clip is ammunition.

May 29, 2013 12:01PM

HYPOCRISY! HYPOCRISY.   Easier for misplaced conceptions about the gun industry.


Alcohol and Tobacco Industries. Responsible for more deaths than the gun industry, but where's the public outcry?



May 29, 2013 12:06PM
Fast and furious,traced back to eric withholder. Where is your outcry when the government traffics in guns?
May 29, 2013 12:00PM

I would like to know how much and what kind of liquor you have in your home. We need this information so that the type of liquor used by drunk drivers can be outlawed. Bartenders,liquor salesmen ,and food vendors that sell liquor need to be held accountable.Drunk drivers are not at fault it is the manufacturers and those that sell liquor that are at fault.

 Sounds stupid doesn't it. If you don't want a gun,don't buy one.

May 29, 2013 12:18PM
This article is none other than ignorant. Perhaps condom manufacturers should track their products. Lol
May 29, 2013 12:07PM
Where did this little no writing twerp come from?
May 29, 2013 1:05PM
Manufactures are not responsible for buyers actions.  There should be only one person responsible for our action, and that is us.
May 29, 2013 2:15PM
More from MSN's never-ending anti-American propaganda campaign to erode our Constitutionally-protected rights. What a surprise.

So why should gun manufacturers be the police? Can anyone tell me even one other business where manufacturers are supposed to participate in regulating the end-users of their products? That's ridiculous!

May 29, 2013 2:28PM
Based on how this article was written, shouldn't the government arrest Mr. Notte's parents since they would be responsible for having raised an idiot?
The gun manufacturers are the same as the honest citizen who did not and will not kill innocent people with a firearm.  We, (They) should not be held accountable.  Only the bag guys should be held accountable.  That is the difference between the Democrats and all others.  When something happens, the Dems don't want to blame the perpetrator, they want to blame everyone else for their own agenda.
May 29, 2013 2:15PM

It is obvious Nolte has never shot, loaded, cleaned, or owned a gun.  What is illegal is the attack on our constitutional rights.

Jason Notte:   If you want to save people from getting killed, prevent abortions which kill over a million American babies a year.
May 29, 2013 10:58AM
Why blame the gun dealers.  Congress allows the sale of weapons which in most countries are considered weapons of mass destruction and who's only use to kill masses of people.  They arm their terror police (homeland security) with AR-16s because they can't teach them proper fire discipline? Don't blame the dealers or manufacturers when the highest ruling body in the land doesn't know what is morally right.  The right to bear arms does not include the right to wantonly kill another person.
May 29, 2013 1:29PM
Using the logic that gun manufacturers are responsible for dealers selling weapons illegally, why aren't we prosecuting meat packers for selling hamburger meat to fast food chains.  The evidence is clear that eating burgers leads to heart disease after all. Obesity causes far more deaths than guns do. Surely the meat packers are aware of what their hamburger is being used for and are doing nothing to prevent it. 
May 29, 2013 3:10PM
PROFIT AT ANY COST! greed at its best.
May 29, 2013 11:42AM

Give these gun manufacturers a break! There's a limit to the number of folks who can traffic in narcotics.

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