DISTRICT HEIGHTS – Representatives from 40 civic and religious organizations gathered at the headquarters of Realco Guns on Tuesday to rally the gun industry to change their distribution practices.
The rally was part of the Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB) campaign and held as part of a nation-wide day of action on gun violence. Speakers concerned with gun violence in their communities called on the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the largest gun manufacturers in the country to release information about incentives, concerns or pressure they place on their major suppliers to upgrade their distribution practices, as well as any safety technologies they might be developing.
“It’s time for Gaston Glock, Ugo Beretta, James Debney and the other gun CEOs to set standards of responsible conduct for their industry, and to ensure that all of their sales outlets meet those standards,” said Bishop Douglas Miles, national co-chair of DNSIB. “This is a step that will save lives across America."
Realco was chosen as the site of the rally due to evidence of guns distributed by Realco being used disproportionately in crimes. A 2010 Washington Post article revealed that between 1992 and 2010, one out of eight guns sold at Realco were recovered at crime scenes, a figure that is far higher than any other dealer in the region. Yet the manufacturers continue to use Realco to sell their products.
Reverend Timothy Tutt of Action in Montgomery, a Montgomery County-based advocacy group, said rally organizers spoke with Realco employees.
“They told us they’re doing the best they can to work with the ATF (the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms) and the Prince George’s County Police Department, so I’m going to take them at face value,” he said.
The problem, instead, seems to be with the gun manufacturers who “don't seem to care what’s happening on the streets of Prince George's County.”
DNSIB asked the state, local and federal governments to use their purchasing power to force gun manufacturers to change their distribution policies. Governments account for 40 percent of the country’s gun and ammunitions purchases.
“The same market leverage that can move gun manufacturers to innovate on safety technologies can also get them to improve their distribution practices,” Tutt said. “What we would like to see is more involvement from gun manufacturers to make sure our streets are safe.”
The rally comes almost a month after President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence, including expanded background checks and federal investment in smart gun technologies. DNSIB claims some credit for moving Obama to embrace the smart guns.
Smart guns are weapons that are only able to be fired by authorized persons. Obama announced on Jan. 4 that he would direct the federal government to invest in researching and improving this technology and to become a large buyer of smart guns to incentivize manufacturers to make them.
“In part, what we proposed was, you know what, we’re going to do some of the research,” Obama said at a televised town hall on the topic on Jan. 7. “We’ll work with the private sector. We’ll figure out whether or not this technology can be developed and then give everybody a choice in terms of the kind of firearm they want to purchase, because I think there will, in fact, be a market for that.”