For Release: Tuesday, December 21, 1999
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released The Endgame, a report detailing three areas that must be reformed within the gun industry in order for a settlement of lawsuits filed by major cities against the industry to have any significant effect in reducing firearms violence. Public statements by some involved in ongoing talks with the gun industry indicate a growing desire to quickly reach a settlement. The VPC is strongly concerned that this could occur without first forcing significant changes in gun industry business and manufacturing practices.
The Endgame also notes that a settlement offers an opportunity to end the gun industry’s long-standing immunity from basic federal health and safety regulation. A meaningful settlement must include:
- Restrictions on Gun Industry Products
- Stop innovating for lethality, i.e., developing products, especially handguns, for a combination of high caliber and concealability.
- Close the loopholes by which assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, supposedly already banned, continue to flow onto the market.
- Agree to recall products with safety related defects causing death or serious injury to consumers, as well as develop a system to identify and remedy these defects.
- Reform How Guns Are Distributed
- Accept independent standards to weed out those distributors and retailers engaging in illegal or negligent sales. For example, manufacturers should include in their agreements with wholesalers provisions prohibiting sales to “kitchen-table” gun dealers, who operate out of their homes, and dealers who sell at gun shows. Also, a system for spotting dealers who sell a disproportionate number of crime guns is needed.
- Changes in Marketing Practices
- Immediately cease marketing campaigns aimed at children, as well as fear-based marketing strategies, such as using predictions of Y2K social collapse to drive up gun sales. Also, the industry should stop making misleading and unwarranted self-defense claims in their advertising.
Additionally, The Endgame stresses the need for an enforcement mechanism. Ideally, the firearms industry should be federally regulated for health and safety preferably by the Department of the Treasury as are all other industries. Short of federal oversight, a monitor independent of the gun industry and with governmental authority should enforce the standards described above.
“America’s firearms violence problem stems directly from the fact that the gun industry is the last unregulated manufacturer of a consumer product,” noted VPC Director of Federal Policy Kristen Rand, “any settlement of the lawsuits against the gun industry must fundamentally change the way the industry does business, and that means serious regulation.”