The Putrid Greed Behind The Guns

Posted by Bob Lord

The recent history of Smith and Wesson is a stunning story of raw greed and highlights the pure scum that populate the gun industry.

This piece in Huff Po tells part of the story. According to Huff Po, in the '90's, Smith and Wesson signed a safety agreement with the Clinton administration in exchange for immunity from pending litigation:

In the agreement, Smith & Wesson pledged that any new firearms would not take a magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and that dealers would be required to more aggressively apply background checks to buyers. The Clinton administration called the deal the beginning of an "unprecedented partnership" between government and the gun industry.

But the NRA and other gun groups attacked Smith and Wesson and promoted a boycott:

But pro-gun advocates saw the agreement as a rank betrayal, and the National Rifle Association said the company had "run up the white flag of surrender." Under pressure from the boycott, sales fell 40 percent, and Smith & Wesson closed two factories. In 2001, Tompkins PLC, its British owner, sold the company to a U.S. buyer for $15 million, a fraction of the price it had paid for it just a few years earlier.

The US buyer then repudiated the agreement and began manufacturing, among other guns, assault-style rifles.

Yet in just a few years, Smith & Wesson was back on its feet and well on its way to regaining its position at the top of U.S. gun manufacturers. A key element of its strategy was openly repudiating the terms of the Clinton gun safety deal and introducing a new line of high-capacity pistols and its first-ever, assault-style rifle, which became top-sellers for the company. The turnaround was facilitated by the Bush administration, which failed to enforce the terms of the gun-safety deal and aided Smith & Wesson with major new federal contracts, according to Jon Cowan, former president of Americans for Gun Safety. 

"The Bush administration was deeply in the pocket of the NRA and decided not to enforce this agreement," said Cowan, who worked on the deal while serving as chief of staff to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his tenure as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Frankly, if there had been a Gore administration, this would have been actively and aggressively enforced."

Huff Po's reporting reveals the rank dishonesty of Smith and Wesson's new owners in repudiating the agreement and the corruption of the Bush administration in not enforcing it, but fails to mention the history of the US buyer. Without knowing that history, you can't grasp how stunningly greed-motivated these people were. 

The US buyer was a company called Saf-T-Hammer, which, as you might guess from the name, was organized for the purpose of designing, manufacturing and selling gun safety products. At the time of the sale, the Phoenix Business Journal reported:

Scottsdale-based Saf-T-Hammer said it will be incorporating its safety features in Smith & Wesson fireams, including the .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum made famous by Clint Eastwood.

The purchase came about because Saf-T-Hammer had hired a former Smith and Wesson officer shortly before Smith and Wesson's prior owners put the company on the block.

One reason why the acquisition went through is that Saf-T-Hammer's president, Bob Scott, formerly was vice president of business development at Smith & Wesson, according to Saltz.

"He knew the operation hands-on without spending a whole year learning it," Saltz said.

So, in a nutshell, the founders of Saf-T-Hammer believe they have invented a device (a removable hammer), that can vastly improve gun safety. They solicit seed money from investors to develop their product. They even design other gun safetly products. Then, the opportunity to make big money selling rapid-fire killing machines presents itself and, whamo, it's "screw gun safety, let's make money." Oh, sure, they talked about incorporationg their safety products into Smith and Wesson guns, but they wound up in the assault weapon biz almost immediately after the ink was dry on the purchase documents. That doesn't jibe with their purported intention to improve the safety of Smith and Wesson's guns.

You couldn't find a more glaring case of pure, unmitigated greed. Returning to the Huff Po piece, here's what the filthy greed of the scumbucket board members of "Saf-T-Hammer" led to:

But there were consequences. In August 2012, James Holmes, a disturbed graduate student, allegedly opened fire on a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., with a Smith & Wesson assault-style rifle, killing 12 and injuring 58. The rifle was fitted with an "ultra-capacity" magazine holding 100 rounds.

Smith & Wesson-made assault weapons are also increasingly fueling drug-related violence south of the border, Rand said. "We started seeing them showing up in seizures in Mexico," she said.

How do you suppose the family members of the Aurora victims feel about Saf-T-Hammer's founder's efforts to help make guns safer?

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