Want To Come Up With The Dough To Make A ‘Smart’ Gun? Here’s A Plan.

With all due respect to Glock, we think of guns as an American phenomenon, from the origins of the first gun factory at Springfield Armory in 1777, up to now when Americans own more than one-third of all the small arms existing in the world today. If guns aren’t the best example of American ‘exceptionalism’ outside of Coka-Cola, I don’t know what is.

confiscated             But every once in a while someone somewhere else comes up with a really good idea about what to do with guns, and in this case the idea came out of Sweden last year.  The outfit who came up with this innovation is a relief and support organization called IM Swedish Development Partner, which is tied to a Swiss-based NGO called Humanium, which is connected to a United Nations sustainable development program which does relief and development work throughout the globe.  I know it’s a mouthful, but if you want to see what this project’s all about, just click here or continue reading below.

Basically what the program does is go out and collect illegal guns., then melt them down and use the metal for various mechanical and fabricating work in underserved communities; in other words, it’s basically a salvage operation, but in this case the metal which is being salvaged represents illegally-used guns.  So they aren’t promoting gun control as a response to gun violence, they are promoting recycling of products whose prior use has resulted in those particular products not being used for the same purpose again.

The outfit which announced this project, IM Swedish Development Partner, took their advertising video to Cannes last year and won the Grand Prize at the 2016 Innovation Grand Prix.  And don’t think they were competing against a bunch of slouches, because the runner-up was Google’s Tilt Brush, and prizes also went to agencies representing Apple and the iT Bra which can detect cancer simply by being worn.

Know how many illegal guns have been confiscated in New York City alone since 2013?  Try 15,000 bangers, okay?  Know how many guns the Chicago cops picked up last year? They took 8,300 guns off the street in 2016 and about 8,000 the previous year.  In Baltimore, the total haul last year was around 2,000 guns.

So the bottom line is that every year in the United States, the cops probably recover   at least 100,000 guns.  And how many of these guns get returned to their ‘rightful’ owners?  That’s a pretty easy number to figure out.  Like none. Get it? None.

I suspect that a majority of the seized guns are handguns and let’s assume that the average handgun weighs about 2.5 pounds. Now let’s add another half-pound to that number because many of the confiscated guns are long guns which obviously weigh a good deal more. In other words, every year we probably end up with somewhere around what would be 300,000 pounds of metal if these guns were all melted down.  How much is all that metal worth? Probably between $2 and $3 a pound, let’s say $2.50 to be safe.

What if we take $600,000 – $700,000 a year and give it away to some small, struggling entrepreneurs who are trying to get to market with a new product, in particular a product that might save some lives?  I think that what we could do with that steel is give it to the folks who want to manufacture ‘safe’ guns, you know, the guns which only shoot when the rightful owner puts it in his or her own hands.

I keep hearing that safe guns can’t get to market because nobody wants to put up the cash to move this kind of product out the factory door. But covering the raw material costs might be a good way to start.  And the fact that a safe gun might represent a recycled unsafe gun is certainly an added plus, don’t you agree?

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A Fun Gun Story For The New Year.

I recently received a note from a reader who wanted me to write some ‘fun’ stories about guns. And why not?  After all, for those of us who enjoy guns because we just like to shoot them, or talk about them, or play with them, guns are a lot of fun.  So here’s one of those stories which ends in heartbreak but that’s how most good stories end.

M&P              I used to have a friend in the gun business named Joe DeSaye. He owned a wholesale gun company called J&G (named after himself and his ex-wife Grace), which is still a family-owned business even though Joe, of blessed memory, is long gone.  Anyway, Joe used to sell most of his inventory through a gun newspaper called Shotgun News.  Most of Joe’s ads were for used handguns, many of them police trade-ins, and many of them guns that he bought from me.  I’ll spare the details of how I accumulated and sold Joe upwards of 10,000 used handguns every year; it was all legal commerce and Joe only dealt with customers who held a valid FFL.

One day in 1984 or 1985 Joe calls me (he lived in Arizona and I was in New York) and tells me that he’s got a “line” on an “incredible stash of guns.”  But he couldn’t talk on the phone because he was at some place where he might be overheard, so I had to call him back that night when he got home.  That night Joe tells me that the United States Postal Inspectors had just purchased 4,000 new Smith & Wesson stainless magnum revolvers – the 4-inch Model 66 – and were giving them out to every postal inspector who was turning in his own gun.  Evidently the Postal Inspectors had been allowed to carry whatever sidearm they chose, but now the force was getting modern and everyone was going to carry a Model 66.

Joe then further told me that the 4,000 duty weapons previously carried by the Inspectors were sitting in a warehouse at the Marine base in Quantico but Joe had “friends” in the Post Office, and these friends had agreed to let Joe enter a sole bid for the guns.  So I was going to go down to Quantico, take a look at the guns to make sure they were in good enough shape to be resold, and then Joe would submit the bid.

The next day I drove down to Quantico, and after checking me out at the security gate, I was taken to an unmarked, corrugated-metal storage building somewhere on the base.  Got out of the car, walked into a big room, lights went on, and I was surrounded by 4,000 handguns neatly stacked in piles all over the floor.  And what piles!  Over here were beautiful, commercial versions of the Colt 1911 with the shiny, royal blue Colt finish, not a blemish or a scratch.  Over there were Smith & Wesson 45-caliber M&P revolvers, the 5-inch models manufactured before World War II. There were even some original Colt, Single Action Army guns in 44-40 and 45. I was dizzy; I was beside myself with joy.  I couldn’t have cared less how much Joe and I would make on this deal, I just wanted to keep about 100 of the guns for myself.

Know what happened?  The next day there was a story about a local police chief in Virginia who sold some confiscated guns to a gun shop who sold one of the guns to a jerk who then shot his wife with the gun.  And the day after that, the Postal Service loaded the entire pile on a cargo plane, flew the plane over the ocean and dumped my 4,000 guns into the sea.

I suppose it’s better that those guns ended up underwater than even one of them ending up in the wrong hands.  But they still could have let me take 100 of them home.  I could have always made room by throwing out some of my Lionel trains.