While gun manufacturers have not weighed in on gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., confidential, decade-old transcripts of testimony uncovered by the New York Times shows how they became shielded from liability in 2005.
A review of transcripts scattered across the country, packed away in archives at courthouses and law firms, shows industry leaders arguing that manufacturers can’t be held responsible for the monitoring of distributors or dealers who sell their firearms to the public.
“That’s not for us to enforce the law,” said Mr. Guevremont, president of Browning, who testified that his company would not review the practices of a deal which was the subject of numerous trace requests.
MKS Supply owner Charles Brown said he never examined the trace requests the company received from federal agents. MKS manufactures an inexpensive gun, which the Times says turned up frequently in criminal investigations.
A Glock executive testified that he would continue to do business with a dealer he knew was indicted on a charge of violating firearms laws. “This is still America,” the exec said. “You’re still innocent until proven guilty.”
President of Sturm, Ruger & Co. was not interested in knowing how many times police traced guns back to one of their distributors, stating it “wouldn’t show us anything.”
Ugo Gussalli Beratta was the only executive not on board with other manufactures. He said he never realized it was so easy to get multiple guns in the U.S., compared to his homeland Italy. He said he thought Beretta USA had a policy for dealers to determine if there was “a legitimate need” before so many guns could be purchased. However, was wrong.
In the late 1990s, more than 20 cities, counties or states filed suit against gun manufacturers, charging the industry with negligent sales practices.