Right now, the manufacturers of firearms could begin implementing changes that would reduce the number of violent and accidental deaths and injuries associated with gun ownership and gun use in America. None of these changes would in any way jeopardize the rights of law-abiding Americans to own and use firearms. Rather, they would help secure and clarify legitimate gun-ownership rights, and would modernize and stabilize the U.S. gun industry.
Manufacturers Are the Key Players in Two Gun Markets
There are two markets for guns in America: a primary market involving sales of new and used firearms through regulated dealers, and a secondary market involving sales of new and used firearms outside these regulated channels. Many of the problems come from the secondary market – and from the porous boundary between the two markets, resulting in a steady supply of cheap guns, new and used, available to those who shouldn’t have them.
More than any other group in American society, gun manufacturers hold the keys to changes in both markets. With help from other sectors, the manufacturers could bring safer and less lethal products to the primary market, and sharply limit the flow of guns into the secondary market. They could help law enforcement bring an end to illegal gun trafficking by increasing the risks and reducing the rewards for traffickers and street buyers. These measures could significantly reduce the supply and raise the price of illegal guns on the streets – making them off-limits to many street buyers and changing the reality of life in American cities. By limiting gun supplies on the secondary market and guns sold through bad-apple dealers, the manufacturers could drive sales towards the vast majority of regulated gun dealers that strictly obey the law. They could make the gun industry, on the whole, a more transparent, safety-focused and modern enterprise, with allies in every sector of society. They would allow manufacturers to attract investment, expand their customer base, and move away from an image of a narrowly-based industry whose sales depend on apocalyptic fear.
How Manufacturers Can Use this Market Power
Over the last year, Metro IAF has met with more than 100 law enforcement leaders, gun experts, industry analysts and others with valuable insights in these areas. We have drawn a number of specific proposals from these discussions – practical steps that manufacturers can take now to begin this transformation:
- How Manufacturers Can Use this Market Power
- 1. Create a first-rate dealer and customer-service network
• Build an internal dealer certification program to ensure that the manufacturer sells exclusively through Federal Firearms Licensees that meet high standards in terms of:
• Cooperation with law enforcement
• Record keeping
• Training of employees to detect straw buyers
• Safety and gun-storage training for buyers
• Cut off all sales in the secondary market, and all sales through dealers who fail to meet the company’s standards.
• Create re-purchase and trade-in programs that keep used guns off the secondary market
• Offer attractive prices and convenience for owners who want to sell their guns back within the dealer network.
• Re-sell used guns through certified dealers in the primary market.
• Create other customer-service and brand-loyalty programs that strengthen relationships with the company and its certified dealers
• Offer incentives to buyers to stay in relationship with primary dealers.
• Attach strong warranties to the gun, and honor the warranty and customer-service incentives to second owners provided the gun is re-sold through the primary market.
• Encourage the reporting of lost or stolen guns to law enforcement
• Educate consumers on the importance of this.
• Offer incentives to do this.
• Consider providing an alternate channel through which reports can be made.
- 2. Use data to attack illegal gun trafficking and assist law enforcement
• Use federal crime gun trace requests to identify problem dealers.
• Instead of fighting to keep crime gun trace data private and off-limits even to law enforcement, work with the ATF and local agencies to use this data to bring pressure on bad actors among gun retailers and to identify trafficking patterns. (The industry enjoys iron-clad immunity from litigation, so the restrictions on data collection can no longer be defended as a matter of “life and death” for manufacturers, as claimed years ago.)
• Issue an annual public report on the company’s guns recovered at crime scenes, with statistical analysis and a summary of the company’s responses.
- 3. Bring safer guns to market
• Bring “smart guns” to market – guns that incorporate owner-recognition technology to limit their use to authorized users.
• Bring guns with bullet micro-stamping capability to market to give law enforcement a powerful investigative tool and to make the gun less useful to criminals.
• Continually re-evaluate and upgrade the company’s products through new mechanical or electronic safety features – e.g., safe trigger-pull settings, chamber loaded/unloaded indicators, safe cleaning modes, etc.
• Include trigger locks with all guns sold.
• Bring high-quality locks, safes and other storage products to market.
- 4. De-escalate the “arms race” between civilians and law enforcement
• Refrain from sales of large-capacity magazines.
• Refrain from marketing focused on lethality.