Senate Majority Leader
Frist Says American Gun Companies at Risk if Congress Doesn't Pass Bill
to Shield the Gun Industry from Lawsuits�But Cites Italian Gunmaker Beretta
Facts Expose Frist's
Red Herring: Bulk of Government Contracts Already Go to Foreign Gunmakers
Meet the Berettas: Ugo, Franco, and Pietro
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) announced his intention to bring
to the floor of the U.S. Senate this week legislation to shield the gun
industry from civil liability (S. 397). According to Frist, the bill is
urgently needed to protect American gunmakers and their ability to supply
the U.S. military and other government agencies. "Given the amount, the
profusion of litigation, the Department of Defense faces the real prospect
of having to outsource sidearms for our soldiers to foreign manufacturers,"
Frist stated in remarks made on the Senate floor. He then cited as an
example of an "American" company at risk the Italian gunmaker Beretta,
which supplies the standard sidearm to U.S. armed forces.
Frist is unacquainted with Ugo Gussalli Beretta and his sons Franco and
Pietro, the principals in the Italian firearm manufacturer Beretta,"
states Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand, "The
fact that Senator Frist must resort to outrageous, untrue, and easily
disproved claims about the effect of S. 397 on American gun companies
is the latest proof that there is no rational reason to shield the gun
industry from civil liability, an industry already exempt from federal
health and safety oversight. If Senator Frist truly believes that the
arming of America's defense agencies should not be in the hands of `foreign
manufacturers,' then he has many a sleepless night ahead of him."
In fact, contrary
to Frist's alarmist assertions, the bulk of U.S. contracts for firearms
used by the military and other government agencies already go to foreign
manufacturers. According to an article in TheStreet.com that ran
on the same day that Senator Frist made his dire prediction, "Until now,
three foreign companies have, strangely enough, dominated sales of high-end
firearms to U.S. law enforcement officers and the military: Glock of Austria,
Beretta of Italy and Sigarms of Switzerland." TheStreet was reporting
on the first federal contract that Massachusetts-based Smith & Wesson
had received in 15 years, a deal worth $1.2 million to supply 4,750 pistols
to the Army.
The paltry size of
the Smith & Wesson contract stands in sharp contrast to the "largest pistol
contract in law enforcement history" (valued of $26 million) the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), recently awarded to Heckler & Koch GmbH, a company
headquartered in Oberndorf, Germany.
More examples of military
and law enforcement contracts awarded to foreign manufacturers are detailed
in the new Violence Policy Center study A
Foreign Affair: Contracting for U.S. Military and Law Enforcement Firearms
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x109