For Release: Wednesday, January 20, 1999
“Making a Killing” is Groundbreaking Expose of Gun Business
In a book published by The New Press this month, VPC Senior Policy Analyst Tom Diaz reveals how the gun industry has responded to stagnation in the firearms market by producing increasingly deadly guns – just as breezily as car companies once introduced tailfins. Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America is a startling expose of the secretive gun industry and its cavalier use of lethality as a marketing tool.
“Lethality is the nicotine of the gun industry,” Diaz says. “Even more than the tobacco companies, firearm manufacturers have been shielded from public scrutiny and exempt from health and safety laws that govern other products. Once you look behind that veil, you discover a cynical business that earns its profits by making deadlier weapons, while the rest of us pay the tragic price.”
Making a Killing moves beyond the more familiar arguments of the gun control debate to offer the first-ever comprehensive examination of the $1.4 billion gun industry. This new focus coincides with recent efforts by big-city mayors to file litigation and recover the enormous costs of firearms violence.
The book uses gun makers’ own words to demonstrate their calculated lethality strategy, systematically dissecting each aspect of the industry from manufacturers to importers to retailers. It also recounts efforts to build a wider market for guns by collaborating with the fawning “gun press,” capitalizing on sales to law enforcement, and callously targeting women, youth, and minorities.
Diaz is himself a former member of the National Rifle Association, a one-time competitive shooter, and a self-described “reformed gun nut.” Before coming to the VPC, he worked as a journalist, an attorney, and counsel to the House Crime Subcommittee under now-Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).