Industry News
By Robert M. Hausman

Randy Luth, the founder and president of DPMS Firearms retired on December 14th. Luth founded and grew the company (Defense Procurement Manufacturing Services) from a home garage-based operation selling parts into an AR-style rifle manufacturer. His company was acquired by the Freedom Group, Inc. which also owns Remington Arms Co. and Bushmaster Firearms in 2007. Luth was credited with being one of the early marketers of AR-style rifles as hunting arms, as opposed to being purely tactical in utility.

Supreme Court Denies Hearing Adames v. Beretta

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed the firearms industry another victory (the third this year) in a case challenging constitutionality of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) by rejecting the Brady Center’s appeal of Adames v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

The Adames suit was filed by the Brady Center on behalf of a family seeking to hold Beretta responsible for the tragic shooting death of their son by another teenage boy who had gained unauthorized access to his father’s unsecured service pistol. The shooter removed the magazine from the pistol but did not check if there was a round in the chamber. Thinking the pistol unloaded, the shooter pointed it at the other boy and pulled the trigger, killing him. Much of the Brady’s Center’s argument at trial had focused on the lack of a magazine disconnect feature on the pistol involved.

The case was originally dismissed by a Chicago trial court, subsequently reinstated in part by the Illinois Court of Appeals, and then ultimately found to be barred under the PLCAA by the Illinois Supreme Court. The other two cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court denied a Brady Center challenge to the PLCAA this year were Lawson v. Beretta and City of New York v. Beretta.

Representing Beretta in the case was Craig Livingston of the Livingston Law Firm, who remarked, “And so ends a long legal battle - from the trial court in Chicago, through the Illinois appellate courts, and all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court - which served only to confirm what has been known since May 5, 2001, namely that this tragic shooting death was caused not by any defect in a Cook County Corrections Officer’s Beretta pistol, but rather by its reckless misuse on that fateful day by his teenage son.”

The PLCAA was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2005 in response to the flood of unwarranted lawsuits brought by the Brady Center to bankrupt the firearms industry.

Lester Shubin, Kevlar Vest Developer, Dies at 84

Lester Shubin, a government scientist who recognized the potential of using Kevlar to strengthen bullet-resistant vests for the police, a development credited with saving over 3,000 lives, died at his home in Fairfax, VA November 24. He was 84.

Working with the Army in the early 1970s, Shubin helped develop the first vests made of Kevlar, an extraordinarily strong fabric invented by the DuPont Company. Shubin was serving at the time as a program manager with the National Institute of Justice, an arm of the U.S. Justice Dept. that does research and development on law enforcement matters.

Shubin worked with Nicholas Montanarelli, a project director for the Army’s Land Warfare Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground to develop and test the vests, and set standards for their manufacture. Both developers had got into the project as a way of protecting the president - Richard M. Nixon at the time - and other leaders from assassination.

Montanarelli suggested looking at Kevlar, which a DuPont researcher, Stephanie Kwolek, had invented in the mid-1960s by manipulating strings of carbon-based molecules. Kevlar was initially used as a replacement for steel in radial automobile tires, and it later found its way into more than 200 products, ranging from yacht sails to spacecraft.

Another of Shubin’s accomplishments was working with the National Bureau of Standards to develop standards and a testing program so that manufacturers could certify the performance and safety of body armor. Meeting the standards eliminated, or at least reduced, the chances of lawsuits for equipment failure. In another project at the Institute, Shubin helped prove that dogs could be trained to sniff out drugs and explosives. He also helped develop bullet-resistant armor for dogs.

Birchwood Casey Sues Battenfield Over Targets

Birchwood Laboratories, Inc., owner of the Birchwood Casey brand, has filed suit against Battenfield Technologies, Inc. over the recent issuance of a patent to Battenfield for their reactive targets and method of target manufacturing.

Birchwood Casey produces the well-known Shoot-N-C and Dirty Bird lines of paper targets. Battenfield has come out with a similar product line called Orange Peel.

“We feel the U.S. Patent Office was given insufficient information by Battenfield during the application process, which resulted in the patent being awarded improperly,” said Mike Wenner, Birchwood’s Vice President, noting that Shoot-N-C targets have been on the market since 1996. “We intend to vigorously defend our marketing efforts and protect our business model.”

Both target brands have a special coating that flakes off during impact, leaving a bright halo ring around each bullet hole, making it easy to see where a gun is shooting and simplifying sight adjustment.

Chicago Case to be Heard March 2nd

Oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case brought by the Second Amendment Foundation against the city of Chicago, IL’s handgun ban (McDonald v. City of Chicago) has been set to begin March 2, 2010.

Some 61 U.S. senators and 251 House members have jointly filed a bipartisan amicus curiae brief asking the Court to hold the Second Amendment applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. At issue is whether the right to arms confirmed by the Second Amendment must be abided by state and local governments. Last year’s District of Columbia vs. Heller decision by the Court held that the federal government must respect this right of citizens.

House Approves $19.2 Million for Rock Island Arsenal

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $19.2 million in funding for Rock Island Arsenal. Part of the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act, which at press time was still awaiting Senate approval, the measure provides $7.6 million for renovating unused office and manufacturing space at the arsenal that could then be leased to commercial firms.

Another $5.8 million would fund roof replacement at Building No. 299, the Army’s largest single-story warehouse. And $5 million would go to the Quad Cities Manufacturing Lab to expand equipment manufacturing using titanium and light-weight composites.

Dick Riley, Gun Shop Founder, Dies

Dick Riley, the founder of Riley’s Sport Shop in Hooksett, New Hampshire, died December 7th. A well-known figure in firearms civil rights circles, Riley founded his store in 1953 and it grew over the years until it became the largest firearms retailer in the state. Riley also served as President of the National Rifle Association from 1990 to 1992 and was the founder and first president of Gun Owners of New Hampshire.

Gunsite Owner Considering Run for Governor

Information has been circulating that Gunsite Ranch shooting school owner Owen “Buz” Mills, is exploring the possibility of a run for Governor of Arizona. He has reportedly formed an exploratory committee and is preparing for the August 2010 primary.

The author publishes two of the small arms industry’s most widely read trade newsletters. The International Firearms Trade covers the world firearms scene, and The New Firearms Business covers the domestic market. Visit www.FirearmsGroup.com. He may be reached at: FirearmsB@aol.com.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V13N7 (April 2010)
and was posted online on April 13, 2012


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