Josh Sugarmann is an American activist for gun control in the United States. He is the executive director and founder in 1988 of the Violence Policy Center, a non-profit advocacy and educational organization, and the author of two books on gun control.
- In a terrifying example of progress outpacing common sense, the handgun industry is poised on the brink of the first major change in concealable firearms in this century--plastic handguns.
Incorporating resilient, lightweight, corrosion-proof polymers into their design, plastic handguns will render metal detectors ineffective. When broken down into their component pieces, they will easily deceive X-ray machines.
This new generation of handgun will appeal to numerous gun aficionados for a variety of reasons, but will be best suited for one in particular: terrorists. Unfortunately, we already have a glimpse of the future. Austrian plastics manufacturer Gaston-Glock has developed the Glock 17, the first handgun in the world to employ plastic in its structural design. This "handgun of the future" is almost half plastic. Only three of its major components are metal: the barrel, slide and spring. Including its clip, the 33-piece gun weighs only 23 ounces and can be field-stripped and reassembled without tools.
- Sugarmann, Josh (March 24, 1986). "Progress Gives Us Great New Handgun--Hijacker Special". Los Angeles Times.
- Across America, the firepower in the hands of gun owners of varying stripes is increasing dramatically. The reason: assault weapons. Drug traffickers are finding that assault weapons—in addition to 'standard issue' handguns—provide the extra firepower necessary to fight police and competing dealers. Right-wing paramilitary extremists, in their ongoing battle against the "Zionist Occupational Government," have made these easily purchased firearms their gun of choice. And rank and file gun aficionados—jaded with handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles—are moving up to the television glamour and movie sex appeal of assault weapons. The growing market for these weapons—coupled with a general rising interest in the non-sporting use of firearms—has generated an industry of publications, catalogs, accessories, training camps, and combat schools dedicated to meeting its needs.
- Guns are the second most deadly consumer product, after cars, on the market. Many consumer products, from lawn darts to the Dalkon Shield, have been banned in the United States, even though they claimed only a fraction of the lives guns do in a day.
- While the National Rifle Association promotes Mr. Heston as a kinder, gentler face to soften its hard-core image, he is as extreme as the rest of the group's leadership. A Heston speech last December before the ultraconservative Free Congress Foundation in Washington was so hateful that David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, praised it and circulated it on his Web site.
In his remarks, Mr. Heston repeatedly invoked "cultural 'warfare, spoke warmly of "white pride" and attacked "blacks who raise a militant fist with one hand while they seek preference with the other." He also compared criticism of gun owners and the N.R.A. to the Nazi oppression of European Jews.
Whether Mr. Heston does the talking or not, the National Rifle Association remains the same extremist organization that blocks sensible gun laws and markets guns to children.
- Sugarmann, Josh (June 10, 1998). "Under Heston, Same Old N.R.A."". The New York Times.
- A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls -- such as expanding background checks at gun shows and stopping the import of high-capacity magazines -- and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, and Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Their measure would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns.
Real gun control will take courage. In the long run, half-measures and compromises only sacrifice lives.
- Sugarmann, Josh (November 4, 1999). "Laws that can't Stop a Bullet". The New York Times.
- In the wake of three high-profile school shootings in one week, the last committed by an apparently law-abiding gun owner until he pulled the trigger executing five Amish schoolgirls, America will once again go through the now-predictable exercise of trying to identify any single, possible factor for these gun deaths—except for the guns themselves. On television news, anchors refer to the school shootings as “unavoidable,” as if such mass shootings are the bastard children born of hurricanes and snowstorms.
- After the West Nickel Mines School shooting (Sugarmann, Josh (October 4, 2006). "Schoolgirls Executed in Their Classroom: America Shrugs". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 16,2018. ).
- To the NRA, true friends means Republican friends, as can be seen in the NRA’s endorsements when faced with two “pro-gun” candidates. In its traditional pre-election frenzy, the NRA’s magazines featured profiles of Republicans George Allen, Rick Santorum, and Conrad Burns, touting them over Democrats Jim Webb, Bob Casey and Jon Tester, respectively. The gun group was particularly hysterical about the need to defeat to Jim Webb. “This November, it is critical that all freedom-loving Virginians vote to re-elect Sen. George Allen,” the NRA admonished voters in the Old Dominion State.
The gun lobby’s allegiance to Republicans also shows in its political giving. In 2006, the NRA’s PAC gave 85 percent of its campaign contributions to Republican candidates while Gun Owners of America gave 100 percent to Republicans. In addition, Republican activists Grover Norquist, David Keene, and Ollie North serve on the NRA’s board of directors in addition to current and former Republican Members of Congress.
- On the 2006 mid-term elections (Sugarmann, Josh (November 9, 2006). "NRA: The “Biggest Election Disaster in Nearly 15 Years.”". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 16,2018. ).
- Perhaps more important than the unions’ recognition of the NRA’s below-the-radar support of big business—tort “reform” anyone?—is the fact that this announcement is the latest manifestation of the fact that the NRA doesn’t actually represent the interests of the vast bulk of American gun owners. For most gun owners—hunters and sport shooters—guns are just one part of their lives. The NRA’s caters to, and depends on, the small percentage (granted, a percentage large enough to make the NRA one of the most potent lobbies in the nation) of gun owners for whom guns are their whole life. Despite whatever lip service the NRA pays to the “hook and bullet” crowd, their leadership and activist base live by the bumper sticker credo, “The Second Amendment Isn’t About Duck Hunting.” Driven by what is known in pro-gun circles as “the NATO strategy”—an attack on any category of firearm is an attack on all firearms—the NRA leadership spends its time fighting gun controls of any type, while merely giving lip service to conservation issues. This constant tension—between the sport shooters and the so-called Second Amendment activists—has now broken into the open.
- Sugarmann, Josh (January 16, 2007). "Unions Call National Rifle Association’s “Conservation” Bluff". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 16, 2018.
- Contrary to the familiar chatter of the gun industry and the gun lobby, firearms ownership has declined dramatically over the past 35 years. From 1972 to 2006, the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home has dropped nearly 20 percentage points: from a high of 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent in 2006. During the period 1980 to 2006, the percentage of Americans who reported personally owning a gun dropped more than nine percentage points: from a high of 30.7 percent in 1985 to a low during the survey period of 21.6 percent in 2006. Or to look at it another way, nearly two thirds of American homes are gun free, and more than three quarters of Americans do not personally own a gun...the political might of both the NRA and the gun industry relies on consistently overestimating the number of Americans who own guns. To publicly acknowledge that the gun culture in America is fading away, and that they are a clear minority, undercuts their political power.
- It’s an unbelievably sad commentary that high-profile shootings occur frequently enough that we know the National Rifle Association’s rote four-step crisis management response.
One. Don’t talk to the press. You don’t want the NRA’s name associated in the public’s mind with mass shootings and the inevitable carnage that results from our nation’s lax gun policies. You want to make sure that the last thing anyone associates with a gun massacre is firearms and those who promote them. To argue to the American public that 32 dead college students and teachers is, as the NRA says, “the price of freedom” is far more difficult when the cost is seen with graphic horror, the faces and stories of the lives lost confronting us. The NRA depends on gun violence being an abstract concept to most Americans. Mass shootings make it all too real.
Two. If the press coverage is broad enough, issue a statement expressing sympathy for the victims. If not, ignore them.
Three. When the shooting no longer dominates the news cycle, abandon the bunker and rebuke any and all who have dared to call for gun control. Be sure to indignantly argue that anyone calling for measures to control guns is exploiting tragedy for “political gain.” And be sure to attack the news media for actually covering the story.
Four. Work to stop measures to address America’s growing gun problem that may be proposed in the wake of the shooting.
Repeat as necessary.
- Yesterday Connecticut gunmaker Sturm, Ruger & Co. announced an “Inaugural Special“ for high-capacity ammunition magazines for its Mini-14 rifles, a weapon nicknamed the “poor man’s assault rifle.” According to Ruger:
From November 4, 2008 to January 20, 2009, fans of the Ruger Mini-14 Target Rifles and Mini-14 Ranch Rifles, both chambered for .223 Remington, can purchase Ruger manufactured 20-round magazines (regularly priced at $39.95) for only $29.95. This special offer is only available through the Ruger On-line Store. Please note that these magazines are not available where state or local regulations limit magazine capacity to less than 20 rounds.
- Over the past few years the gun industry has become increasingly dominated by manufacturers selling only AK-47 and AR-15 type assault rifles (newly christened “black rifles” by gunmakers to make them a little more cuddly and a little less killy), new high-powered handguns ranging from revolvers with the penetration power of rifles to AK-47 pistols, to anti-armor 50 caliber sniper rifles. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of Shotgun News and compare the number of gun ads for “traditional” hunting rifles (a handful) to those for assault rifles (all the rest). Military-style weapons are the guns that are flying off the shelves and into the homes of people frightened about the “change” that an Obama Administration represents.
- Guns are now the only consumer product manufactured in America not regulated by a federal agency for health and safety...
When presented with guns’ unique niche in the pantheon of consumer products, the industry and its cheerleaders like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) go into a well-practiced spiel of how in fact they’re actually the most regulated industry in America — citing dealer and manufacturer licensing, the minimal paperwork necessary to buy a gun under federal law, the Brady background check all buyers must go through to purchase a weapon from a licensed dealer, and the fact that ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] is allowed to check a dealer’s sales records once a year (a privilege the agency has the manpower to employ on a far less frequent basis). Yet these are sales standards, not product safety standards. ATF lacks any of the health and safety authority that is routinely granted — and usually expected by the American public — for other consumer products...
And as the gun industry continues to exploit its unique status with increasingly lethal military style weapons for the civilian market, this disparity can only become more evident.
- One of the greatest talents of the National Rifle Association and the gun industry has been their ability exploit high-profile events to pump up gun sales: Bill Clinton, the Brady Bill, the federal assault weapons “ban,” Y2K, September 11th, and now, of course, Barack Obama. Regardless of the event, the solution remains the same: buy a gun. And if industry and gun fan mags are any indication, it should be an AR-15 assault rifle.
- The Freedom Group, a “family” of gun companies cobbled together by Cerberus Capital Management (the former owners of Chrysler, among many other things), has just filed new documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in anticipation of a long-threatened stock IPO (Initial Public Offering). And the picture isn’t pretty.
Freedom Group companies run the gamut from sporting arms to assault weapons. In addition to Bushmaster and DPMS (two leading manufacturers of AR-15 type assault rifles), companies and brands that comprise Freedom Group include: Remington, Marlin, Harrington & Richardson, New England Firearms, L.C. Smith, Dakota Arms, Advanced Armament Corporation, and Barnes Bullets. Freedom Group states that it has the number one U.S. market position in shotguns (31 percent), ammunition (33 percent), traditional rifles (37 percent), and “modern sporting rifles” (48 percent).
- High-capacity ammunition magazines are the common thread that runs through most mass shootings: giving attackers the ability to fire numerous bullets without reloading....
Here are just 10 of the U.S. mass shootings that involved high-capacity ammunition magazines.
1. Hartford Distributors
On August 3, 2010, concealed handgun permit holder Omar Thornton, armed with a Sturm, Ruger SR9 semi-automatic pistol and high-capacity ammunition magazine, opened fire on his co-workers at beer distributor Hartford Distributors in Manchester, CT, killing eight and wounding two before taking his own life.
2. Fort Hood
On November 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan, armed with an FN 5.7 semi-automatic pistol and 30- and 20-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, killed 13 and wounded more than 30 at the Fort Hood military base in Fort Hood, TX.
3. Virginia Tech
On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, armed with a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol, Walther P22 semi-automatic pistol, and 15-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, killed 32 and wounded 17 on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, before taking his own life.
4. Xerox Office Building
On November 2, 1999, Byran Uyesugi, armed with a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol and three 15-round high-capacity magazines, opened fire at the Xerox Office Building in Honolulu, HA, killing seven.
5. Wedgewood Baptist Church
On September 15, 1999, Larry Gene Ashbrook, armed with a Sturm, Ruger P85 9mm semi-automatic pistol and three 15-round high-capacity magazines, opened fire at Wedgewood Baptist Church, killing seven and wounding seven before taking his own life.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, armed with an Intratec TEC-DC9 semi-automatic assault pistol, Hi-Point 9mm semi-automatic Carbine, two Savage shotguns, and high-capacity ammunition magazines, killed 13 and wounded 23 at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, before taking their own lives.
7. Long Island Railroad
On December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson, armed with a Sturm, Ruger P89 9mm semi-automatic pistol and four 15-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, opened fire on Long Island Railroad commuters, killing six and wounding 19.
8. Pettit & Martin, 101 California
On July 1, 1993, Gian Luigi Ferri, armed with two Intratec TEC-DC9 semi-automatic assault pistols, a 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and 40- to 50-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, opened fire at the San Francisco, CA, law firm of Pettit & Martin, killing eight and and wounding six before taking his own life.
9. Luby's Cafeteria
On October 16, 1991, George Hennard, armed with a Sturm, Ruger P89 semi-automatic pistol, Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and 17- and 15-round magazines, killed 23 and wounded 20 at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, TX, before taking his own life.
On January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy, armed with an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle, Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol, an unidentified semi-automatic pistol, and a 75-round high-capacity drum magazine, opened fire on grade school children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, CA, killing five and wounding 30 before taking his own life.
- Sugarmann, Josh (January 13, 2011). "10 U.S. Mass Shootings Involving High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 17, 2018.
- Today's NRA is a virtual subsidiary of the gun industry. While the NRA portrays itself as protecting the 'freedom' of individual gun owners, it's actually working to protect the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell virtually any weapon or accessory.
- April 13, 2011 (Violence Policy Center (April 13, 2011). National Rifle Association Receives Millions of Dollars From Gun Industry "Corporate Partners" New VPC Report Reveals. Press release.)
- Today the NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through the Round-Up Program, created by top NRA benefactor Larry Potterfield. Potterfield is founder and head of MidwayUSA, which claims to stock “[j]ust about everything for shooting, reloading, gunsmithing and hunting,” including ammunition and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The Round-Up Program encourages buyers to “round-up” their purchase to the nearest dollar with the difference going to the NRA.
- Sugarmann, Josh (July 24, 2018). "NRA Reaps Profits From the Internet Ammo Sales It Made Possible". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 18, 2018.
- The grotesque irony? The National Shooting Sports Foundation locale. They’ve taken the lead in working to rebrand assault weapons as modern sporting rifles.
- After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut (Olinger, David (December 21, 2012). "War comes home for founder of group fighting for assault weapons ban". The Denver Post. Retrieved on October 19, 2018. ).
- Today’s NRA is nothing less than a gun industry trade association masquerading as a shooting sports foundation.
- Sugarmann, Josh (May 3, 2013). "NRA Meets in Houston to Promote Gun Industry’s ‘Latest and Greatest Products’". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 18, 2018.
- Somehow they managed to make the N.R.A. the victims of the Newtown shootings. I think the average American would be shocked by their language.
- Dao, James (May 5, 2013). "N.R.A. Leadership Rallies Members for 2014 Elections". The New York Times. Retrieved on October 8, 2018.
- The NRA, a trade association for the gun industry masquerading as a shooting sports foundation, has worked for decades to block any policy that could negatively affect the industry’s bottom line. They’ve taken tens of millions of dollars in donations from gun companies that care more about increased profits than protecting public safety.
- In the long-term trends, gun ownership in the United States has been declining steadily since the 1970s. The traditional gun-buying public, basically white males, has been aging and dying off, and there aren't enough replacement shooters to take their place. That's why you're seeing a shift in the industry away from traditional hunting rifles and shotguns evolve to focus on firepower and capacity.
- Boyle, John (December 3, 2014). "Military-style AR-15 rifles: 'The market is saturated'". USA Today. Retrieved on October 20, 2018.
- The Glock pistol reportedly used by alleged South Carolina mass killer Dylann Roof stands as a stark example of the gun industry’s marketing of increased lethality. Since the mid-1980s, increased firepower and capacity have defined the products of the gun industry — of both U.S. and foreign manufacture.
Glock pistols have been part of the arsenals of some of the most infamous mass shooters in the United States, including the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which left 33 dead and 17 wounded, as well as the January 2011 attack at a Tucson, Arizona Safeway parking lot by Jared Loughner which left six dead and 13 wounded — including then-U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Examples of additional mass shootings involving Glock pistols include:
* The 2012 attack at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin that left seven dead (including the shooter).
* The 2012 mass shooting at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater that left 12 dead.
* A 1999 shooting at a Xerox Office Building in Honolulu, Hawaii, that left seven dead.
* A 1999 shooting in Springfield, Oregon, where the 15-year-old shooter killed his parents, and then went to school where he killed two of his classmates.
* A 1998 workplace shooting at the Connecticut State Lottery Headquarters where the shooter killed four before taking his own life.
* The 1991 shooting at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas that left 24 dead (including the shooter).
- Sugarmann, Josh (June 19, 2015). "Glock Pistol Used in Church Massacre a Favorite of Mass Shooters". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 18, 2018.
- Year after year, our findings are consistent: States with stricter gun laws and lower rates of gun ownership have some of the lowest overall gun death rates in the county. Conversely, states with lax gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the nation’s highest gun death rates.
- Sugarmann, Josh (October 2, 2018). "President Obama Is Right: States With Strict Gun Laws Have Fewer Gun Deaths". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 18, 2018.
- The modern era of mass-casualty public shootings was inaugurated when James Huberty decided to go “hunting for humans” with an UZI Carbine at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, California on July 18, 1984....
And since that horrific attack at McDonald’s in 1984 that left 21 dead, including numerous children, and 19 wounded, the list of towns and institutions that will forever be associated with mass shootings continues to grow: Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California; Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado; a hunting camp in Birchwood, Wisconsin; a mall in Omaha, Nebraska; an IHOP in Carson City, Nevada; a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; Sandy Hook Elementary School; a military installation in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Planned Parenthood; and now San Bernardino.
- ...the truth is that guns are rarely used to stop crimes or kill criminals...private citizens use guns to harm themselves or others far more often than to kill in self-defense...The fact is that the use of guns in self-defense in America bears little resemblance to the false claims made by the NRA and its gun industry partners. Perhaps most striking is that in a nation of more than 300 million guns, how rarely firearms are used in self-defense.
- Assault weapons and high-capacity concealed carry handguns are the bread and butter of today's gun industry.
- Meier, Barry; de la Merced, Michael J. (June 21 2016). "Assault Rifles and Concealed Handguns at Center of a Changing Industry". The New York Times. Retrieved on October 8, 2018.
- The bottom line is, guns beget gun violence...private citizens rarely use guns to kill criminals or stop crimes...For every time a person used a gun to kill in a justifiable homicide, 34 innocent lives were ended in criminal gun homicides...Why does the gun industry persist in its lies? Short answer: to make money...Relying on a gun for self-defense is much more likely to result in tragedy than protection — 34 times more likely, according to our study. Guns don’t protect us. They kill us.
- Sugarmann, Josh (July 18, 2017). "Guns Don’t Make Us Safe: Debunking The Self-Defense Myth". HuffPost. Retrieved on October 19, 2018.
- Today's National Rifle Association is essentially a de facto trade association masquerading as a shooting sports foundation. So the NRA does the bulk of lobbying for the industry. You know, you hear the NRA talking about their opposition to an assault weapons ban, their opposition to raising the age for the purchase of a long gun from 18 to 21 years of age. And they try to frame it in terms of freedom and history and, you know, sort of the sacred nature of firearms.
Well, the reality is that's bad for the industry to pass those laws. If you ban assault weapons, that wipes out what they rely on as a recent profit center. If you raise the age for purchase of a long gun, which includes assault rifles, then you add three more years to the timeframe before a young person can buy a gun. So it's very important to understand the political battle in terms of the interests of the industry and in terms of marketing.
- Our nation mourns once again a horrific loss of life that should be unthinkable, yet is becoming routine. Assault weapons, like the AR-15 style weapon used in yesterday’s attack, are military bred firearms designed for a specific purpose: to kill as many people as possible in as short an amount of time as available. Mass shooters utilize guns like the AR-15 because of their specific anti-personnel design characteristics. We cannot talk about effective solutions to stopping these types of attacks without addressing the tools that make them possible. Until assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines are banned, these attacks will continue to threaten our public life and define our nation.
- Sugarmann, Josh (February 15, 2018). Violence Policy Center Statement on Mass Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Violence Policy Center. Retrieved on October 5, 2018.