NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

In Face Of Challenge, Gun Industry Fragmented

December 9, 1998

When lawsuits were bought against tobacco companies, the industry united. But now that cities are bringing suits against gun manufacturers, that industry is split into factions regarding how to respond on a host of issues.

  • While cigarette makers had plenty of money to defend themselves, the gun business is made up of dozens of small, mostly privately held companies that reportedly have total sales of only $2 billion to $3 billion annually.
  • Some better-established companies that make higher-quality guns for hunters, competitive shooters and law enforcement are wary of close association with companies that make less expensive "Saturday-night specials" often linked to crime.
  • Some makers that eschew certain safety devices worry they could be penalized when compared to competitors that offer the devices.
  • Other manufacturers are already talking about trying to shift liability to retailers who allegedly violate gun- control laws.

Experts say that gun companies have potentially potent defenses -- including the argument that, unlike cigarettes, guns used properly don't harm law-abiding consumers.

Source: Paul M. Barrett, "As Lawsuits Loom, Gun Industry Presents a Fragmented Front," Wall Street Journal, December 9, 1998.


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