Originally created 05/01/00

Gun firms fight back



Eight gun manufacturers filed a lawsuit against 16 cities, including Atlanta, to stop them from buying guns for their law enforcement agencies from companies that agreed to stringent federal regulations favored by the White House. The plaintiffs rightly argue that only Congress -- not city and state officials -- has the right to impose regulations of the sale of firearms.

The federal suit also targets Andrew Cuomo, President Bill Clinton's Housing and Urban Development secretary, who is pressuring cities to only buy police weaponry from the Clinton-favored Smith & Wesson firm.

U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., hits the nail on the head: "The Clinton administration's hypocrisy on market interference is truly boundless. On the one hand, the Department of Justice has filed and threatened anti-trust action against numerous key economic sectors, including telecommunications, transportation, technology and defense companies. On the other hand, the administration itself is flouting the principles its says it wants the private sector to follow, by doing everything in its power to gain direct control over the manufacture, distribution and sale of legal firearms."

In this context, at a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Robert Pitofsky acknowledged (in response to questioning from Barr) that government efforts to force a settlement from gun manufacturers could be investigated as a restraint of trade. Using the same logic, it would be a good idea for the FTC to investigate the Smith & Wesson deal.

Firearms are still constitutionally protected and already extensively regulated by Congress. The scheme by President Clinton and his big-city mayoral allies to punish lawful gun manufacturers, while favoring just one, needs to be derailed.