THE GLOBAL flow of guns offers some sad commentary about this country's increasingly gross national arsenal. As reported by staff writer Sharon Walsh, the United States has become the darling of foreign gun makers, as other major industrialized countries enact increasingly restrictive gun laws for themselves. If you can't market those deadly weapons at home, you can always dump them on gun-happy America.
To rub it in, many of those gun makers with familiar names -- Smith & Wesson, Winchester, Beretta, Browning -- are owned by foreign companies based in the countries that have cracked down on gun ownership. Smith & Wesson, for example, is owned by a company in Britain -- where handgun ownership is prohibited. While people there seem to be surviving without any guns in their homes, on their persons or in their cars, Smith & Wesson is the largest maker of handguns in the United States.
Taurus International Manufacturing Inc., owned by a company in Brazil, produces guns in Miami and imports as well. Brazilian companies export about 90 percent of the guns made in that country. Its exports to the United States began in 1968, after the Brazilian government enacted restrictions on sales there. Now Brazil is considering even tougher restrictions; the state of Rio de Janeiro recently approved one of the toughest gun laws in the world, and a similar law is under consideration for the whole country.
The list goes on: Beretta's parent company is in Italy, where hunters must show membership in a hunting club where they have been trained, and individuals seeking to buy handguns must prove they need them for self-defense. Still other gun makers are subsidiaries of companies in countries with solid controls on firearms.
What is the United States doing to control the furious flow of firearms? The House is doing nothing, having flailed around after the Senate sent over a skimpy control bill. Other countries have found little constructive use for handguns; the United States has no ban on concealable weapons. As foreign countries pour out their lethal exports, gun pushers in the United States welcome them with open arms.