Gun industry rejects settlement effort
By Bill McAllister
Denver Post Washington Bureau Chief
Feb. 1 – WASHINGTON – The gun industry has rebuffed the Clinton administration’s efforts to broker a peace agreement between firearms makers and the more than two dozen cities that are suing them, Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo disclosed Monday.
Cuomo revealed the rejection as he announced a $30 million proposal his Department of Housing and Urban Development is sending Congress to finance computerized mapping of gun crimes and to educate the public about gun violence. The initiative is in addition to a $280 million enforcement effort that President Clinton proposed in his State of the Union message.
Cuomo blamed the industry’s refusal to meet with his department on a “vocal minority” of manufacturers. He declined to name the gun makers who had rejected his calls for negotiations, but he promised HUD officials will attempt to meet with gun makers on a company-by-company basis.
“There is no monolith called the “gun manufacturers,’” Cuomo said. “They span the spectrum from nonpolitical to the very political. And, as in many groups, sometimes the vocal minority rules.”
Cuomo, who last month announced the administration would attempt to negotiate an agreement with the gun makers, warned them Monday they will suffer “death by a thousand cuts” if they continue to fight each of the communities that is suing them over gun violence. The secretary said 28 localities have sued firearms firms.
In response to questions, Cuomo also revealed that industry representatives declined to attend a scheduled Jan. 21 meeting in Las Vegas, which was to be held during a major industry gun show there.
Even so, the housing secretary said he remains as optimistic as he was last month about the chances for a negotiated end to the lawsuits. “I still believe that there is a chance for success,” Cuomo said.
The secretary also said he was “cautiously optimistic” that Congress would endorse his department’s $30 million gun initiative as part of the HUD budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. “Congress can’t afford to do nothing .especially in an election year,” he said.
Officials of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a group that represents gun makers, could not be reached for comment, but some manufacturers have been adamant that they would continue to fight the lawsuits which accuse them of selling unsafe products. “We will fight them with all our resolve,” Stephen L. Sanetti, general counsel of Sturm, Ruger & Co., a major firearms maker, has said.
Copyright 1999-2000 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.