Spitzer Forms Coalition To Influence Gun Industry

Attorney General Spitzer today called on local, state and federal government officials to form a coalition that will, in effect, boycott gun manufacturers who fail to adhere to a new safety code.

Spitzer has secured commitments from the mayors of Buffalo, Rochester and Albany to join the coalition. The Westchester County Executive, the Suffolk County Sheriff and other local officials have also agreed to participate.

"Until now, there have been only two ways to try to ensure that the gun industry will produce safer guns and take more responsibility for its products once they leave the factory -- either through legislation or litigation," said Spitzer.

"Today, we are offering a third way, and that is for governments across the country to use financial leverage to encourage gun companies to do what is right. In this regard, the best way to get the gun companies’ attention is by focusing on their bottom lines."

Government entities -- such as police forces and departments of correction and public safety -- purchase 25 percent of all guns sold by manufacturers.

Under Spitzer’s plan, members of the new coalition would agree to purchase firearms only from gun manufacturers who sign on to a new voluntary code of conduct. This code has three major principles:

  • Mandatory design changes to make guns safer, including trigger locks, changes to make guns inoperable by young children, magazine safety disconnects, and chamber load indicators;
  • Changes in distribution practices to ensure that manufacturers terminate relations with irresponsible dealers who sell too many guns that are later used in crimes; and
  • An independent monitor, who would ensure that manufacturers adhere to the Code of Conduct, and report the results of its monitoring to the public.

In announcing his plan, Spitzer signed an Executive Order, stating that the Department of Law will no longer purchase guns from any manufacturer that refuses to adopt the code of conduct.

Elected officials from across New York who have already agreed in concept to be part of the coalition include:

Westchester County Executive Andy Spano, who said: "I am very pleased to join the Attorney General in a mutual effort that will make every man, woman and child safer. I will now meet with Westchester’s local officials to urge them to pool their financial leverage to make this plan effective throughout Westchester County."

Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, said: "There’s no question that gun violence is a serious problem, not just in urban areas, but all across America. I want to applaud Attorney General Spitzer for putting this coalition together and letting gun manufacturers know that we are committed to eliminating gun violence throughout the country."

Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson said: "I applaud the Attorney General for developing a concept that recognizes government’s powerful role as one of the largest consumers of firearms. I look forward to, along with other local government leaders, exploring our options in requiring gun manufacturers who deal with municipalities to be responsible bidders."

Also agreeing to join the coalition is Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Suffolk County Sheriff Patrick Mahoney and the Mayor of East Aurora, N.Y., John Pagliaccio, who is the President of the New York Conference of Mayors.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has also expressed his support: "Any step to improve gun safety in this way is highly significant. Law enforcement can set an important example through this kind of market leverage and code of conduct." Spitzer acknowledged the critical role that Blumenthal has played throughout the negotiations with the industry.

This week, Spitzer will be sending letters to President Clinton, the mayors of the nation’s 100 largest cities, and the 50 governors and 50 attorneys general, asking them to join the coalition.

Spitzer thanked a number of people who have been leaders in developing common sense gun reform measures including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center, Joshua Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Dennis Henigan of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, and Barbara Hohlt of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. The Attorney General also recognized elected officials from across the country who have been part of the ongoing negotiations with the gun industry including Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, City Attorney Louise Renne of San Francisco, Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn, and the following Mayors: Joseph Ganim of Bridgeport, Ct., Marc Morial of New Orleans, Richard Daley of Chicago, Willie Brown, Jr. of San Francisco, Bill Campbell of Atlanta, and Alexander Penelas of Miami-Dade County, and former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell.