Cops To Favor Cooperative Gun Cos.
LAWRENCE L. KNUTSON
Mar. 22, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Maintaining pressure on gun manufacturers, the Clinton administration announced that 29 cities and counties will give preference to gun makers that follow the lead of Smith & Wesson _ producing safer firearms and adopting a code of responsible conduct.
``Government at every level should use their procurement policies to support manufacturers who take responsible steps to make guns safer and to keep guns out of the wrong hands,'' said Andrew Cuomo, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who announced the new gun-safety coalition.
Cuomo urged communities of every size to join the effort and said preferential buying can force the gun industry to fall in line behind the Smith & Wesson agreement because sales to law enforcement agencies represent 20 percent to 30 percent of the U.S. gun market.
``It's common sense from police to buy guns from a company that makes it harder for criminals to get hold of guns that can be used against police and civilians,'' Cuomo said.
Last week, Smith & Wesson, the largest U.S. manufacturer of handguns, agreed to quickly install gun locks on all the weapons it sells, to introduce ``smart gun'' technology permitting weapons to be fired only by their owners and to block gun sales at gun shows without a background check.
The company broke industry ranks and changed its policy in exchange for an a promise that a lawsuit against it would be dropped.
Two gunmakers _ Glock Inc. and Browning _ have already announced they will not sign voluntary gun-safety agreements similar to the one agreed to by Smith & Wesson Corp.
Cuomo said Wednesday's announcement was an undisguised attempt to keep the pressure on those and other gun makers.
``Consumers want a safer America'' Cuomo said. ``Because of Smith & Wesson's agreement we now know a safer America is possible. And we demand it.''
Joining the coalition were the attorneys general of Connecticut, Maryland and New York and mayors or county officials in California, Connecticut, Florida Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin.
The list included Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Orleans, Boston and Florida's Miami-Dade County.
``We have the capacity to squeeze manufacturers like a pincers and hurt them in the marketplace.,'' said Democratic Attorney General Elliot Spitz of New York. ``We are bigger than the NRA (National Rifle Association).''
The NRA has been harshly critical of gun initiatives in general. NRA executive Wayne LaPierre discounted the Smith & Wesson deal's importance, saying there was not much new in it.
Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta said he had just attended the funeral of Fulton County (Ga) deputy sheriff Ricky Kinchen, a shooting victim.
``Atlanta buys about a million dollars (worth) of guns each year,'' the mayor said.
When the purchasing power of other cities is added the gun manufacturers ``will comply or they will cease operations,'' he said.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., applauded the effort and said he will shortly introduce legislation to instruct federal law enforcement agencies who buy guns to give preference ``to those manufacturers who sign on to the Smith & Wesson agreement.''
Schumer said he will offer similar but separate legislation dealing with gun purchases by the police force which protects the Capitol complex.
``I think we are seeing a real sea change here in how America regards guns,'' Schumer said. ``And now there is a chance in America to do something about guns.''
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