Bloomberg News reports that domestic handgun production and imports more than doubled over four years to about 4.6 million in 2009, citing the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun-industry trade group. In addition, reports USA Today, on this year’s Black Friday, the holiday shopping bonanza that follows Thanksgiving, gun retail sales surged to 129,166, far surpassing the previous single day high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.
In the 12 months that ended in March 2010, the Freedom Group, a new company created by the private investment group Cerberus Capital Management, sold 1.2 million long guns and 2.6 billion rounds of ammunition. Its rapid growth makes it a major player in the international arms market. In an in-depth report, the New York Times profiles the creation and growth of this new weapons behemoth. Stephen Feinberg, the founder and CEO of Cerberus, specializes in buying companies cheap, restructuring them and selling at a profit. In the first nine months of 2011, gun sales at the Freedom Group were up 5.6 percent.
“I just delivered a message to those anti-gun elitists at the United Nations, who are meeting to discuss ways to craft an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that could go after your Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” wrote Wayne La Pierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association of America recently.
Beginning in 2001 at the first UN Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, the United Nations has convened member states to draft a treaty to regulate the international trade in small arms, a treaty scheduled to be ready for a vote in July of next year.
At the behest of the arms industry and the NRA, the US has for the most part opposed the treaty. Now some gun proponents are worried they can’t depend on the Obama Administration to defend their interests. To date, 57 senators have vowed they will not approve a treaty that in their view undermines the Second Amendment. The small arms the treaty addresses are weapons estimated to contribute to about 200,000 deaths a year, a body count that does not include those killed in military conflicts. Other groups, including the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) have supported the treaty, claiming it would help to slow illegal gun trafficking and the diversion of arms to gangs, drug dealers and terrorist organizations. “By recognizing the interconnectedness of the unregulated arms trade, armed violence and the undermining of human rights, including implicitly the right to health, a robust ATT would help prevent the misuse of arms and thus reduce resultant deaths and injuries,” noted Dr. Robert Mtonga MD, IPPNW co-president.
The Montana Firearms Institute was launched last week, according to the Flathead Beacon, a weekly newspaper in the Flathead Valley of Montana. The Institute seeks to foster communication between firearms businesses, help those small businesses compete for lucrative government contracts, and lobby at the legislative level for policies favorable to the industry. “It’s great that MFI wants to put Montana on the map as a friendly place for the gun industry to locate,” said Wayne La Pierre, the National Rifle Association’s Executive Vice President and CEO, who attended the launch.
According to a new report by the Center for Responsive Politics, the number of former lobbyists working as key congressional staffers has more than doubled since the Republican Party took control of the House. The report, Hired Guns to Hired Hands, found that 128 former lobbyists work in key staff positions in this Congress, compared to 60 in the last one. Of the new lobbyists-turned-public servants, 79 work for Republicans, 48 for Democrats and one for an independent. Since the last Congress, the number of reverse revolver lobbyists who previously worked in the agribusiness sector increased by 243%, in the transportation sector by 223% and in the health sector by 200%.
On June 2nd, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the “Docs versus Glocks” bill that requires doctors, emergency medical personnel and other health-care providers not to enter information about a patient’s gun practices into a database and refrain from asking about gun ownership unless they “in good faith [believe] that this information is relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety, or the safety of others.” In response, Bruce S. Manheim, Jr. and Douglas H. Hallward-Driemeier, the Washington lawyers for the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and Florida Chapter of the American College of Physicians, wrote: “In violation of the U.S. Constitution, the law would … deprive patients of potentially life-saving information regarding safety measures they can take to protect their children, families and others from injury or death resulting from unsafe storage or handling of firearms,” “For these reasons, we intend to file a lawsuit” against this law.
Last month CBS News reported that the Mexican government had hired an American law firm to explore filing civil charges against U.S. gun manufacturers and distributors over the flood of guns crossing the border into Mexico.
The National Sports Shooting Foundation, the trade association of gun makers, responded “we are disappointed that [Mexican President Felipe Calderon] would seek to hold law-abiding American companies responsible for crime in Mexico”. The NSSF noted that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, signed into law in 2005 by then President George W. Bush, protects gun makers from most liability for their products, making the success of any Mexican legal action uncertain.