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Phoenix Arms

Ontario, California

Number of Employees: 15


Year .22 .25 .32 .380 9mm .45 Total
1992 0 67,824 0 0 0 0 67,824
1993 5,761 93,860 0 0 0 0 99,621
1994 35,461 26,148 0 0 0 0 61,609
1995 32,719 15,662 0 0 0 0 48,381
1996 29,913 11,730 0 0 0 0 41,643
1997 27,405 15,680 0 0 0 0 43,085

Company Facts:

Phoenix Arms is one of the six "Ring of Fire" companies that produce the majority of Saturday Night Special handguns, or "junk guns," in the United States. As detailed in a 1992 article by Wall Street Journal reporter Alix Freedman, in 1970 George Jennings produced a cheap .25 pistol and founded Raven Arms. Twenty-one years later, in November 1991, a fire destroyed the Raven Arms factory. George Jennings retired and sold the tooling from Raven Arms to the aptly named Phoenix Arms. Phoenix was owned in equal shares by his son Bruce's ex-wife and children; four of his daughter's children; and by Raven's former general manager. The mainstay of the new company is still the .25 Raven model. Phoenix also sells larger .25 and .22 pistols "[d]esigned for personal protection as well as sport and target shooting."

Like its predecessor, Phoenix pistols are cheap. The Model Raven sells for around $80 and the larger pistols list for $100. An ad in the September 1994 issue of American Firearms Industry for the newer, high-capacity pistols promised, "Protection, Peace of Mind and Self-Confidence under $100." The December 1994 issue of Shooting Industry featured a four-page color ad headlined, "Discreet Personal Protection." The ad read, "Building the best, most affordable compact semi-automatic pistols on the market is no small task, but that's what Phoenix Arms has done with its line of highly concealable defense handguns."

As the result of its small size, the Raven would fail the "sporting purposes" test that is applied to imported, but not domestically produced, handguns.

In February 1999, a jury in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn found Phoenix (along with eight other gun manufacturers) negligent in its marketing and distribution practices and that those practices were the proximate cause of shootings that took place in the New York area. The jury determined that Phoenix's marketing and distribution practices fostered illegal gun trafficking into the state of New York.

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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.

All contents � 2000 Violence Policy Center