by Robert Hausman
The suit against two industry firms brought by the mother of a letter carrier slain by a white supremacist in California in 1999 has been allowed to proceed by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Last fall, a three-judge panel of the court reinstated the wrongful death suit that had previously been tossed out by a Los Angeles federal judge before it went to trial. One of the firms named in the suit, Glock, Inc. (the other firm is China North Industries Corp.), had asked the full court to reconsider the reinstatement. However, the court voted to allow the suit to proceed.
The ruling brought a strongly worded dissent by eight of the court’s judges who said the precedent the suit might set could threaten many manufacturers other than firearms makers.
The suit, Ileto v. Glock, was brought in response to the August 10, 1999 actions of Buford O. Furrow, Jr., who wounded five people at a San Fernando Valley Jewish community center and who later the same day shot Ileto. The families of three children wounded by Furrow joined in the suit.
Using a familiar negligent marketing theory that has failed in past suits, the plaintiffs’ contend: the firearms firms produced and distributed significantly more firearms that the legitimate market would bear; that the makers’ firearms were sold at gun shows and through so-called “kitchen table gun dealers” who may be licensed but “loosely regulated”; and that the manufacturers sell their products “with the illicit market in mind.” As evidence of this last contention, the suit claims Glock promotes one of its 9mm models as a “pocket rocket,” although this term “pocket rocket” may have actually been used by a firearms writer in a review of a Glock pistol.
In the dissent to the latest ruling, eight of the 26 judges signed the lengthy dissent, predicting dire consequences for the state’s economy if the decision stands.
“The potential impact of the…decision is staggering,” wrote Judge Consuelo Callahan. “Any manufacturer of an arguably dangerous product that finds its way into California can be hauled into court in the state to defend against a civil action brought by a victim of the criminal use of that product,” Callahan noted.
In the three-judge panel reinstitution of the suit last fall, Judge Richard Paez wrote, “The social value of manufacturing and distributing guns without taking basic steps to prevent these guns from reaching illegal purchasers and possessors cannot outweigh the public interest in keeping the guns out of the hands of illegal purchasers and possessors who in turn use them in crimes.”
The plaintiffs are being assisted by the Washington, D.C.-based Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. In 2001, Furrow was sentenced to five life terms in prison.
NYC Wins Right to Gun Trace Data
The industry lost a round in the New York City case on May 19, when a federal magistrate ruled the city was entitled to federal firearms trace data, overruling objections by the Justice Department. City lawyers argued that without the trace data the city would have difficulty proving its claim that the industry’s marketing and distribution practices are a “public nuisance.”
The ruling, by Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak, in federal court in Brooklyn, waded into a contentious issue over the Bush administration’s reluctance to release the trace data, The New York Times reported. Congress has enacted an appropriations measure prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) from expending funds to release the data. A Justice Department lawyer said during arguments in the city’s case that the department, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, had changed a government policy that permitted the limited release of the information in an earlier lawsuit.
The lead lawyer on the case at the city’s Law Department, Eric Proshansky, said of Judge Pollak’s decision, “It is important to the city because the proof in these suits is developed by demonstrating through these databases that the gun industry knows about problems in the distribution networks.” A similar battle over a demand for the same information from the City of Chicago is being fought in the courts.
In a lawsuit by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that raised similar claims to the city’s suit (but which ultimately failed), the ATF agreed to release some of the trace information in 2002. Under that agreement, access to the data was strictly limited and it could not be used in any other suit.
In a letter to Ashcroft in 2002, New York’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, took a position that undercut the argument of the city’s civil lawyers in the case. Kelly wrote release of the information would “compromise critical law enforcement investigations and endanger the lives of police officers and members of the public.”
ATF lawyers argued the appropriations measures barred the bureau from releasing information. In her decision, Judge Pollak disagreed, saying ATF was required to turn over the trace data under a city subpoena. “Congress,” she wrote, “did not intend to restrict civil litigants from receiving firearms data pursuant to judicial subpoena.”
In a filing in the case, Proshansky cited remarks made by a federal lawyer at a hearing in April suggesting that the government’s policy had changed under Ashcroft. The lawyer, Barry Orlow, deputy associate chief counsel of ATF, had noted that ATF was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Justice Dept. during the government’s Homeland Security reorganization in 2003. “We don’t work for the secretary of the Treasury anymore, we work for the attorney general,” Orlow said, adding, “policy considerations have changed.”
In reviewing some of the accomplishments of former President Ronald Reagan, who died earlier this year, it should be noted that in 1983, Reagan received the NRA’s highest honor in the form of a unanimously passed resolution by the NRA board of directors bestowing honorary life membership on him and calling on him to serve a second term as U.S. president. Reagan was the first sitting president of the U.S. to address the NRA membership at an annual meeting. In 1980, Reagan became the first presidential candidate in the NRA’s history to be endorsed by the Association.
As Governor of California, he signed the state waiting period for handgun purchases into law, which was later expanded to include long guns. As President, he signed the much-needed Gun Owners Protection Act of 1986 into law containing a provision allowing law-abiding citizens to transport firearms across state lines unhindered by local gun control laws. Unfortunately, the 1986 Act also included a provision disallowing further civilian registrations of fully automatic firearms.
Probably the greatest evidence of his strong commitment to firearms rights came after the assassination attempt on him by John Hinckley, Jr. Prior to this, there had been a strong push in Congress for new gun control measures to which Reagan had remained steadfastly opposed. While he was recuperating from the attack, a reporter from a major metropolitan anti-gun newspaper posed the question, “How do you feel about gun control now, Mister President?” Though still feeling the pain from his wounds, Reagan voiced his continued opposition.
Sharper Image May Sell Taser Stun Gun
At press time, Taser International, Inc. was reported to be in talks with the Sharper Image Corp. about distributing a new consumer version of the stun gun through Sharper Image’s stores. Taser’s shares rose 19% on the news.
Meanwhile Taser’s president, Thomas Smith, said the firm is talking with several major retailers and added plans are underway to sell Taser’s on the maker’s web site.
“Certainly the consumer market represents a significant opportunity for Taser,” Dick Ryan, an analyst with Feltl & Co. in Minneapolis told The Los Angeles Times. “But it’s hard to get a sense of what kind of penetration into the consumer market they could get.”
25NAA Claims Superiority to .25/.32 ACP
A new cartridge and gun combination were introduced at the 2004 SHOT Show by North American Arms and COR-BON Ammunition. Dubbed the 25NAA, it is intended for the law enforcement (as a backup piece) and personal protection markets.
The 25NAA is a bottlenecked cartridge originally conceived by noted gunwriter J.B. Wood. It is fired from the same frame as the super-compact 32ACP Guardian autoloader introduced by NAA five years ago. It pushes a 35-grain Hornady XTP .25 cal. bullet out of a 2-inch barrel at a blistering 1,275 f.p.s. Simply stated, this new round travels faster and delivers more energy than any .32 ACP cartridge being commercially produced. Like the 32NAA introduced last year, the 25NAA was developed in consultation with and tested by Ed Sanow, editor of Law Enforcement magazine and who is also an internationally recognized ballistics expert. Both the pistol (MSRP $409) and the ammunition (MSRP $25 for a box of 50) are in production.
Testing of the new 25NAA cartridge shows it produces a velocity of 1,275 fps and energy of 126 ft-lb. in bare ballistic gelatin and it produced a penetration of 6-inches. It achieved a 10-inch penetration in gelatin after traveling through heavy clothes. The .25 cal. projectile expanded to .40-inch in bare gelatin and to .36-inch in gelatin after traveling through heavy clothes. Its one shot stopping power, as determined by the Fuller Index, is stated as 40%.
The 25NAA cartridge also compares well to its two closest competitors, the .25 ACP and the .32 ACP.
The .25 ACP cartridge, on average, produces 823 fps velocity and 58 ft-lbs energy according to North American Arms. The 32 ACP cartridge on average runs at 872 fps velocity and yields 104 ft-lbs. energy, according to NAA. On average, the 25NAA has nearly 50% more velocity and twice the energy of the .25 ACP hollowpoints. The 25NAA has much greater velocity and 20% more energy than the .32 ACP hollowpoints.
On average, the 25NAA expands slightly more and penetrates slightly less than the .25 ACP hollowpoints using the same diameter bullet. The 25NAA, using a smaller caliber bullet than the .32 ACP, has a smaller recovered diameter and produces less penetration than the .32 ACP hollowpoints. The 25NAA with 35-gr. Horn XTP bullet expands to .40-inch and penetrates 6-inch into bare ballistic gelatin.
In comparison, the .25 ACP cartridge on average expands to .36-inch and penetrates 6.9-inches of bare ballistic gelatin, according to NAA data. On the other hand, the .32 ACP cartridge on average expands to .48-inch and penetrates 8.1-inches of bare gelatin, according to NAA.
Where the 25NAA cartridge excels is in the heavy clothes test, using four layers of denim. Here, the new cartridge produces 10-inches of penetration while expanding to .36 caliber. This 10-inch penetration from the 25NAA easily surpasses the 9-inch minimum required by the U.S. Border Patrol.
In the area of felt recoil (Power Factor), the 25 NAA loaded with the 35-gr. Horn XTP bullet is rated at 44. This compares to the .25 ACP cartridge rating of 32 and to the .32 ACP’s cartridge’s rating of 54, on average. Thus, the 25NAA produces 38% more recoil than the .25 ACP and 18% less recoil than the .32 ACP.
In the stopping power arena (Fuller Index) the 25NAA loaded with the 35-gr. Horn XTP achieves 40% one-shot stops. On average the .25 ACP is rated at 24% one-shot stops and the .32 ACP an average of 41% one-shot stops, according to data supplied by NAA.
On the average, the 25NAA has 66% more stopping power than the .25 ACP while the new cartridge has the same stopping power as the .32 ACP. In a side note, last March 6th, the Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI) unanimously voted COR-BON/Glaser in as a member.
The idea behind the new cartridge and the version of the ultra-compact Guardian pistol designed to handle it, is to offer the most stopping power for the least frame size.
American Ammunition Acquires Triton
American Ammunition, Inc. (OTCBB:AAMI) has acquired the assets of Triton Ammunition Corp. Included in the purchase are the machinery, raw materials and intellectual property rights of Triton, including the patents and licenses to Triton’s most popular and critically acclaimed Hi-Vel and Quik-Shok lines of ammunition designed by Tom Burczynski. A new marketing program has begun to deliver current AAMI product and the Triton products to market. The acquisition was managed by the investment-banking firm of Andrew, Alexander, Wise and Co., Inc. of New York.
FFL List Available
A new FFL-listing service is available for firms desiring to market products to the small arms industry. The International Firearms Trade, a professional publication for firearms marketers is now offering the current American FFL database service on CD-ROM in Microsoft Excel format. There are presently in excess of 69,000 FFL-holders. All holders of commercial FFL licenses are included (such as retailers, distributors, manufacturers, pawnbrokers, etc.). License holders’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, license types and license numbers are provided. FFL’s issued to collectors of curios and relics are not included. The data is provided in a variety of ways, depending on the customer’s requirements:
- Option 1. As a monthly update service. Each month the entire list is mailed containing the current Federal Firearms License holders. The subscription price is $1,500 for a minimum one-year term. Thus, the cost is $125 per month, which can be paid quarterly in advance. If the subscription is paid in full at the time of ordering, 5% may be deducted.
- Option 2. As a quarterly update. Every three months subscribers receive the most current list on CD-ROM. This four-times-per-year service costs $800 for a minimum one-year term. It is payable in four installments of $200 each in advance of each quarter. If it is paid in full at the time of ordering, a deduction of 5% applies.
- Option 3. As a single month’s database. The most current month’s list on CD-ROM of all FFL-holders is sent on a one-time basis. The cost is just $225.
Also offered are customized FFL list services. The prices for these services are quoted on an individual basis. These include:
- A listing on CD-ROM of all FFL holders in one or more particular states or regions in the country.
- A listing by licensee type, such as just manufacturers, only retailers or only pawnbrokers, etc.
- New/renewed FFL-holders appearing on the FFL database in a given month.
- Former FFL holders who did not renew their licenses (particularly valuable to ensure sales of firearms are not made to licensees who did not renew).
- Elimination of most major chain stores from a particular listing.
- All of the information desired (in whatever variation) can be provided alternatively on self-stick mailing labels instead of CD-ROM (at additional cost).
For more information, send an e-mail to: email@example.com or call 802-751-8064.
The author is the publisher of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade publication, The New Firearms Business (a bi-weekly that covers the domestic small arms industry). For subscription information, send an e-mail to: FirearmsB@aol.com
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V8N2 (November 2004)|