By: ERIC LICHTBLAU
LA TIMES STAFF WRITER
WASHINGTON -- One of the country's biggest gun makers refused Tuesday to agree to tight new restrictions on its manufacturing and marketing operations, marking a setback in the Clinton administration's efforts to impose toughened safeguards on the firearm industry.
Paul Jannuzzo, vice president and general counsel for Glock Inc., said in an interview that the Georgia-based gun manufacturer would not submit to government-sponsored "blackmail."
Last week, administration officials brokered a ground-breaking agreement with Smith & Wesson, the country's biggest manufacturer of handguns.
Smith & Wesson agreed to impose new restrictions on its dealers, to put safety locks on all its guns, to accelerate the development of "smart" gun technology and to take other steps that government officials assert will keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals. In exchange, Smith & Wesson is being dropped as a defendant in a number of lawsuits brought by governmental entities--including Los Angeles and more than 15 other cities--that are seeking to hold gun makers liable for violence caused by their weapons.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, active in negotiations on the issue, had hoped that Glock would be the next major manufacturer to agree to the pact.
But Jannuzzo said that a handful of executives at the company, which is owned by an Austrian corporation, talked Tuesday via conference call and decided to "stick to our guns." Glock estimates that its legal costs in fighting the lawsuits could amount to more than $15 million, but Jannuzzo said that "it's a matter of principle."
Most objectionable in the government's offer, Jannuzzo said, is the creation of an oversight board to monitor and enforce the agreement. "We're not going to submit to a monitoring process. We already have one--it's the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms," he said.
A HUD spokesman said the agency is continuing negotiations with gun makers and would not comment further.
Glock, the biggest supplier of firearms to U.S. law enforcement agencies, may soon face even greater political pressure to reform its operations.
Several gun control advocates in Washington, Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere have pushed the idea of demanding safety and marketing restrictions on companies such as Glock that sell guns to public agencies. And HUD officials today are set to announce the formation of a nationwide coalition to further explore that idea.
Personally, I don't like Glock firearms. But that's just my opinion as to using one. It has nothing to do with the company. I'm really very happy that they took the brave stand they did. For a foreign company to do such a thing here, during the Clinton administration, that was a brave act. And if they should ever design a firearm along the lines of oh, something like the classic 1911 design, then I might put them higher up on my list of companies to buy from.
What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.
Created: March 30, 2000, the last year of the 2nd Millennium.
Last updated: October 14, 2005
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