April 14, 2003
Just saw this recently on Bill Moyer's PBS show, called, oddly enough, "NOW".
So, let's see if you can keep up:
* Robert Ricker, a former lobbyist for the gun manufacturing industry, recently jumps ship and files an affidavit against his former employers in a pair of lawsuits, one brought by the NAACP, that would hold gun manufacturers libel for injuries caused in crimes committed with their guns. Ricker points out that the AFT compiles statistics on an annual basis on what percentage of guns from a given distributor are used in the commission of a crime. More often than not, trends in the data compiled by the ATF can show that the guns from very specific distributors have an abnormally high probability of being used in a crime, which probably means that said distributors are essentially legalized gun runners and should be prosecuted as such. However, the ATF is far to overstaffed to prosecute (it would be like prosecuting every liquor store that sells to minors) and has asked the gun industry to help police itself. The ATF report that outlines all this can be obtained for the nominal fee of $50. The gun makers contend that there is no way for them to determine which dealers are selling to criminals. Coincidentally, the dealers in question can comprise up to 20% of the gun industry's annual revenue. The lawsuits move forward.
* The House of Representatives passes a bill (H.R. 1036 - dubbed "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act") that will limit the amount of money someone can get out of a gun manufacturer when they sue them after someone is hurt in a crime committed with one of their guns on April 9th of this year. It's now being considered by the Senate.
* Under the Homeland Security Act, the ATF is moved under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General and all-around NRA buddy, John Ashcroft.
* When approached by Bill Moyers to comment on the Rickers affidavit, the ATF & the Justice Department declined.
* Under orders from Attorney General Ashcroft, the ATF no longer makes it's gun sales statistics available to the public.
Bill Moyer's show has really effectively used the web, offering every conceivable link in this story to additional info. Check it out.