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Handgun Sales Are Up and "United We Stand Pistols" Have Hit the Market: The Gun Lobby Playsto Fear, Prejudices and Patriotism

StoryDecember 12, 2001
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Crime of all kinds is up across the country and that Americans are arming themselves in the wake of the September 11attacks. Gun retailers across the country report significant increases in gun sales, particularly to first-timebuyers. And the gun industry has helped to increase gun sales by creating special-issue patriotic guns.

Beretta, the oldest gun manufacturer in the world, just released their latest gun — a limited edition 92F, 9 mm"United We Stand" pistol, which features a laser etched gold American Flag and the words "United We Stand." They willmake a total of 2001 commemorative pieces. Beretta says the pistol is "a testament that the American spirit will notbe diminished during this national crisis." They will donate some of the proceeds to the NYPD Foundation andSurvivor’s Fund.

Ithaca Gun company is also getting in on the trend: they have created a "Homeland Security" model rifle, completewith a patriotic sales pitch: "In our current time of national need Ithaca Gun is ready to meet the challenge… Inevery respect, these new Homeland Security Model shotguns are up to the demanding tasks which lay before us as anation."

But the worst is a soon-to-be-released 50 caliber rifle from Tromix company, called the "Turban Chaser."

Several weeks after September 11th, the California Rifle and Pistol Association— a California affiliate of theNRA—launched a billboard campaign in Los Angeles, featuring a diverse group of smiling people and the words "Societyis safer when criminals don’t know who’s armed." Asked about the appropriateness of the message at this time, aspokesman said the message was "truer than ever . . . in light of what happened in New York City, people have stoppedtaking for granted their own security."

In its investigation of the Sept. 11, the FBI is seeking whether any of the detained had purchased guns. But U.S.Attorney General John Ashcroft, an ardent opponent of gun control legislation, has prohibited the FBI from checkingthe names of some 1,200 detainees against the list. When he was a Missouri state senator, Ashcroft sponsoredlegislation that would have required destruction of the records as soon as the check was complete. As ardently as theattorney general has been prosecuting the war on terrorism, it seems more than a little odd that he would thwartattempts to see if terrorist suspects had purchased guns in the United States. At a December 6 hearing Ashcroftdeclared that FBI checks of gun records "would violate the privacy" of the foreigners being detained on suspicion ofpossible connections to the September 11 hijackers.

Guests:

  • Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice Gun Industry Watch project.
  • Alfredo Valentin, Board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. His son Derek was killed in 1994 inthe Bronx on the street along with his best friend.
  • Paul Jannuzzo, vice president, Glock handguns, based in Vienna.

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