My second trip into the gun memory hole involves the infamous gun-makers liability shield which our own ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pushed through, and George W. Bush signed, just before Democrats took back control of the Senate.
Frist said the legislation was needed because frivolous lawsuits were a serious threat to the poor, beleaguered gun-manufacturers:
“Without this legislation, it is probable the American manufacturers of legal firearms will be faced with a real prospect of going out of business,” Frist said.
“These frivolous suits threaten a domestic industry that is critical to our national defense, jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs and put at risk that law-abiding citizens have access to guns for recreational use,” he said.
“The gun lobby says it needs protection because it’s faced with a litigation crisis,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., an opponent of the measure. “The facts tell precisely the opposite story.”
Reed cited recent Securities and Exchange Commission statements by gunmakers Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. indicating that litigation posed little threat to their bottom lines.
And here we are, eight years later, and gun makers are in trouble. Vector Arms declared bankruptcy in February (lawsuit-related, but not a liability lawsuit). Colt Defense has been downgraded as it tries to avoid declaring bankruptcy for the second time in 25 years. Sales are down across the board as the fearmongering about Obama taking everyones’ guns away has subsided.
So, I guess the “frivolous lawsuits” weren’t such a threat to firearms manufacturers after all. Seems to me the firearms industry has a flawed business model. There are only so many guns one household needs, and it’s not like they’re going to wear out or fall apart the way, say, a new pair of shoes does. That means the only thing that can drive sales are a) wartime government contracts and b) fearmongering to the general public that Nobummer is gonna take your guns/scary brown people are coming for your women, etc. That kind of thing only works for a small (and declining) group of people for so long, though. After a while even the most rabid tin-foil hatter has to feel like they’ve got enough weapons stockpiled to take on the coming Zombie socialist apocalypse.