Report: Gun industry investigated for antitrust violations

March 30, 2000

Web posted at: 9:53 AM EST (1453 GMT)

NEW YORK (AP) -- An antitrust investigation has begun to see if gunmakers are

targeting Smith & Wesson in retaliation for its agreement to put safety locks on

handguns, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The probe is being conducted under state laws in New York, Connecticut and

Maryland, said Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general. He said more

states were expected to become involved and subpoenas were imminent.

Earlier this month, Smith & Wesson agreed to include safety locks with all

handguns and pistols -- external locks will be on the weapons in 60 days and

internal locks installed within two years. New firearms would not be allowed to

accept magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The company also agreed to devote 2 percent of firearms revenues every year to

developing "smart" technology that limits a gun's use to its rightful owner. The

gunmaker, in addition, will not advertise or market its products in a way that

appeals to juveniles or criminals, such as ads claiming guns are fingerprint-proof.

In exchange, a number of municipalities, states and the federal government

agreed to drop threatened lawsuits over gun violence.

However, officials told the Times that other gun manufacturers and dealers

opposed to the settlement have since put financial pressure on Smith & Wesson,

based in Springfield, Massachusetts.

A top wholesaler will no longer carry company weapons, retailers will not sell

Smith & Wesson products and the National Rifle Association has accused the

company of surrendering to Clinton administration demands, the Times reported.

"We are seeing behavior on the part of Smith & Wesson's competitors that raises

the specter of illegal antitrust activity," New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

said. "This is serious stuff."

Robert Delfay, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, denied the


"I could not be more confident that these are just independent actions by

businessmen," Delfay said.

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