Industry News: Congressional Democrats Give Standing Ovation to Call to Renew Gun Ban
By Robert M. Hausman

Democratic members of the U.S. House and Senate recently gave a standing ovation lasting some 20-seconds to Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s call on the United States to renew the federal ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

President Calderon used over four minutes of his address to Congress to lecture Americans on the need to reinstitute the ban which sunset in September 2004. Obama signaled his agreement with the Mexican president saying that the U.S. was “probably to blame” for the drug-fueled violence in Mexico.

Without citing hard evidence, Calderon claimed, “If you look carefully, you will notice that the violence in Mexico started to grow a couple of years before I took office in 2006. This coincides, at least, with the lifting of the U.S. assault weapons ban in 2004.” Calderon also patronized Americans by warning that their gun ownership endangers the United States regardless of the fact that as The Washington Times points out, murder rates actually dropped in both countries between the 2004 expiration of the ban and 2008, when the latest data is available.

Additionally, Calderon falsely claimed that 80% of guns used in Mexican crimes come from the U.S. The majority of guns seized in Mexico have traceable serial numbers that show they come from countries other than the U.S. The 80% figure indicates how many guns sent to the U.S. Bureau of ATF for tracing end up being from America. Most guns seized in Mexico are not sent to U.S. authorities.

Bill Ensuring Sale of Military Casings Introduced

By a unanimous vote, an amendment was added recently by the House Armed Services Committee’s National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5136) that will ensure serviceable and once-fired small arms cartridge cases are available for commercial sale.

The amendment, offered by U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) compels military bases to sell small arms ammunition and ammunition components intact - meaning not demilitarized for scrap - as long as these items aren’t unserviceable or unsafe.

“This is a significant victory for sportsmen, especially during these trying economic times. Reloaded ammunition costs considerably less, and military-sourced spent brass casings are of the calibers most widely used for marksmanship training and competition by civilians,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “Also, with widespread ammunition shortages, the passage of this amendment will be well received by gun owners and ammunition suppliers.”

Last year the NRA says a bureaucratic glitch led to the Department of Defense temporarily suspending sales of once-fired cartridges cases. Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) quickly conveyed to the Defense Logistics Agency their judgment that “the destruction of fired brass is unwarranted and has far reaching implications” including its “impact on small businesses who sell reloaded ammunition utilizing these fired casings, and upon individual gun owners who purchase spent military brass at considerable cost savings for their personal use.”

Rep. Ellsworth’s amendment co-sponsors are Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Dan Boren (D-OK), Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Ike Skelton (D-MO).

New York Allows Silencers to Manufacturers

After more than a year of lobbying on behalf of Remington Arms Co.’s Ilion, NY, plant, the state’s governor has signed a bill into law allowing manufacturers to possess firearms sound suppressors prior to securing contracts. Previously, the law only allowed such possession when a contract was in hand.

The Ilion plant, and other licensed firearms manufacturers, are now able to conduct research and development that involves silencers prior to the government soliciting bids for contracts. Remington will now be able to compete for federal Dept. of Defense contracts and potentially bring jobs to the region.

In the short term, the bill’s signing puts the Ilion plant in a better position to win a $5.6 million contract to upgrade sniper rifles for the U.S. Army. The project, which Remington has already bid on, involves upgrading more than 3,000 M24 sniper rifles. Most of the sniper rifles are built at the Ilion plant.

Remington also recently announced a plan to invest $11 million in the expansion of manufacturing plants in Ilion and Hickory, KY, adding 100 employees to the workforce at each of the facilities.

Marlin Laying Off Employees

Published reports indicate that the Marlin Firearms Co. has begun to lay off employees as part of a plan to close the North Haven, Connecticut factory by June 2011.

The company employed 265 salaried and hourly workers and was one of the town of North Haven’s largest taxpayers. North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda said several factors prompted the closure from the cost of doing business in Connecticut to wage differentials. This situation appears to be compounded by the fact that Connecticut is a difficult state for any manufacturer to sustain its business model,” Freda said.

The Freedom Group acquired Marlin in late 2007 through its Remington Arms Co. subsidiary. At the time of the sale, Marlin was producing half the number of rifles that it did in the early 1970s. Marlin came under the Kenna family ownership when it was purchased at auction in 1924 when it was bankrupt.

Canadian Police Arbitrarily Reclassify Firearms

The National Firearms Association of Canada is demanding access to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police report that explains why a previously restricted rifle was suddenly reclassified as prohibited.

Formerly classified as a “restricted” firearm due to the length of its barrel, the Norinco Type 97A rifle was apparently deemed a prohibited weapon with little explanation, the association says. The organization argues the RCMP made the decision “unilaterally” and is now unfairly confiscating the arms, about 39 of which have been registered to restricted firearm license holders across Canada. The High Standard Model 10B shotgun also went from being a restricted firearm to a prohibited weapon with little explanation.

Association President Blair Hagen said his organization started receiving complaints and requests for assistance from owners when the letters outlining the change were sent out. “The RCMP’s actions are suspect,” Hagen said. “Their ability to unilaterally reclassify a firearm that they already approved for import and sale in Canada to firearms license holders - we’ve got a problem with that.”

On-Line Educational Seminars

The Bureau of ATF has announced that it is launching on-line educational seminars for firearms retailers.

Vermont Getting Closer to Allowing Private Ownership of Suppressors

The state of Vermont has come one-step closer to allowing ownership of firearm silencers by residents with passage of a bill to allow ownership of silencers by police officers. Since the 1930s, apparently as a reaction to the crime wave brought about by the national Prohibition on alcohol, the state legislature passed a general ban on silencer ownership by the populace. With passage of this most recent measure, the logical next step would be to work for passage of a bill to lift the ban on ownership by the law-abiding.

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 V13N12 (September 2010)
and was posted online on March 9, 2012


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