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The Conspiracy of Silence

February 5, 2003

by Nicki Fellenzer -- Recently, a former NRA lawyer and Second Amendment rights activist decided to drop a bomb in a California court by filing an affidavit claiming gun manufacturers knowingly created an ominous conspiracy of silence concealing a flawed distribution system that allows criminals and juveniles to get a hold of firearms, causing tragedy and death. The revelation by Richard Ricker caused a gleeful uproar in the national media, whose members are only too happy to tout anything negative about the gun industry, and among gun control advocates, who are joyfully crowing about the disclosure of the gun industry’s “dirty little secret.”

Ricker, a former executive director of the now defunct American Shooting Sports Council, claims the gun industry has consistently failed to address the problem of the “felons among us.” He asserts firearms manufacturers refuse to monitor bulk sales by federally licensed gun dealers and that the gun makers had long known that "the diversion of firearms from legal channels of commerce to the black market" takes place "principally at the distributor/dealer level.” Furthermore, Ricker claims "leaders in the industry have long known that greater industry action to prevent illegal transactions is possible” by creating a network of manufacturers’ representatives, who stay in close touch with dealers and monitor their activities.

Gun makers fervently denied these allegations. Lawrence Keane, vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation calls the accusations in Ricker's 16-page affidavit ludicrous. Indeed, it’s preposterous to hold legitimate manufacturers of an in-demand product responsible for the actions of a minute few. But logic and rational thought have never stopped the Brady Bunch from plodding blindly toward the goal of rendering Americans completely defenseless against the criminal element.

A study performed three years ago by the office of Senator Chuck Schumer revealed that a tiny percentage of gun retailers is responsible for putting the majority of guns used in crimes on the streets. One hundred and forty gun dealers, Schumer’s office found, were the major source of thousands of guns used in crimes. This number represents one-tenth of one percent of the gun dealers in the United States. It’s absolutely absurd to hold firearms manufacturers accountable for the actions of a minuscule fraction of corrupt dealers – dealers who are, by the way, licensed by the federal government.

Herein lies the problem in the anti-gunners’ hypocritical rhetoric. They’re more than ready and willing to disarm law-abiding citizens, forcing them to rely on the government to protect them, telling them they don’t need guns, since it’s the police’s function to defend them. But when it comes to relying on the government for accurate licensure of firearms dealers and the oversight they’ve claimed as their own responsibility, the government can no longer be held accountable for the licenses it issues. So, let’s get this straight: you must rely on the government to protect your life, which nine times out of ten it is unable to do, but you can’t rely on the government to issue licenses only to scrupulous gun dealers through a licensing system created by the government itself to weed out corrupt gun dealers. This is nonsensical twaddle and hypocrisy only the Brady Bunch could spew forth with a straight face.

Gun manufacturers are required to follow the letter of the law. They sell their product to federally licensed dealers. Should the gun industry be held responsible because gun manufacturers aren’t clairvoyant and are unable to see which of the federally licensed dealers are corrupt? Should they be prosecuted because the BATF hasn’t done its job of ensuring that only qualified dealers get licensed? Apparently Ricker and his newly found pals at the Brady Bunch believe so. They apparently believe that gun manufacturers should spend thousands of dollars to do check ups on every dealer with whom they conduct business, because the federal government is too inept to effectively qualify the dealers it licenses. Their agenda would also involve those same gun manufacturers passing the costs of those thousands they spend in picking up the government’s slack on to the dealer and subsequently the consumers. This would, of course, make firearms even more prohibitively expensive for the average Joe, who can’t afford a bodyguard or armed security at his gates.

Once they’ve ensured that only the rich can afford the most effective tool of self-defense on the market, that’s when the real fun starts! We’ve seen what unilateral disarmament has led to in England: increased crime, increased victimizations, the prosecution of anyone who DARES to use a gun in self-defense and the propagation of the criminal element’s reign over an unarmed population. The BATF already complains that it doesn’t have enough resources to properly do its job in ensuring that crooked dealers don’t get licensed, even though the number of gun dealers has taken a dip, while their budgets have become even more bloated. (BATF’s budget last year was over $850 Million.) State and local police departments already complain about a lack of funding and staff shortages. Combine this with the inability of the average citizen to defend himself with a firearm, and you have a nasty little recipe for crime soup that will wreak havoc on our society. Because, as the case of “Not-so-Great” Britain has shown, even a total handgun ban will not stop criminals from obtaining guns, leaving everyone else at their mercy.

But let’s assume for a moment that Ricker’s claims are true – that the gun industry was in the position to somehow stem the flow of firearms to the one tenth of one percent of gun dealers, who are corrupt in this country. Let’s assume that as Ricker said, gun manufacturers remained silent for fear of liability. Well, who could possibly blame them? This country and its anti-rights, anti-freedom, anti-personal responsibility lobbying groups have created an environment rich with fear of persecution. In a society where you can be sued for practicing medicine without a license for helping a car crash victim…

…in an overly litigious culture where state legislatures actually had to enact “Good Samaritan” laws, because unscrupulous money-grubbers were bringing law suits against those trying to help them…

…is it any shock that a pervasive atmosphere of apprehension exists? Is anyone really surprised at the unwillingness to speak up for fear of being persecuted? After all, a society, where an odious, anti-freedom outfit brings suit against a firearm maker because the manufacturer’s product was used in “sniper” attacks – and does so with a straight face, expecting to win in court, – can expect no cooperation for fear of that same exact persecution.

When a society transforms legitimate businesses into criminals because their product is misused by a criminal few, is it any surprise that the businesses aren’t willing to speak up?

When gun manufacturers are consistently sued, harassed and abused by the Brady Bunch and the government hoodlums whose leashes Brady tightly wields, how can anyone blame them for keeping silent?

Brady and company have made a business out of harassment and intimidation. With their rhetoric and lies, they have turned legitimate business owners into criminals and law-abiding gun owners into potential villains.   Is it any wonder that “laying low” has become the status quo? Is it any wonder that the beaten down victims of their demagoguery and propaganda “see no evil” for fear that even more responsibility for the irresponsible and criminal acts of others will be laid at their feet?

How much of Ricker’s 16-page condemnation of the gun industry is truth and how much of it is retaliation for losing his executive director’s slot at the American Shooting Sports Council we’ll probably never know. It’s not so hard to imagine a disgruntled former employee, who was forced to resign from his high-level position for bowing down to Bill Clinton’s attempts to disarm lawful gun owners, placing the blame for his loss of rank and position on the NRA and the gun industry.

But whether his allegations are true or simply the by-product of a disgruntled malcontent, one thing remains clear – the anti-freedom maggots are still ready, willing and able to continue feeding off the carcass of our freedom. They’re ready to toss out personal responsibility, human rights and the US Constitution in favor of control, power and complete prostration at the feet of the state. They will continue blaming the gun industry for the misdeeds of the criminal element and for the inability of the government to do its job. A return to sanity and personal responsibility is in order. The only people responsible for gun crime are criminals - not the manufacturers, whose only crime is producing a consumer good that is in demand and not the gun lobby, whose goal is the preservation of our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Any attempt to hold the industry responsible for the misuse of its product is an absurd monument to ineptitude, capriciousness and negligence.