Mr. Ricker, who has been working for more than two decades in the gun industry, including a stint as a lawyer for the N.R.A., said the gun makers had long known that ''the diversion of firearms from legal channels of commerce to the black market'' takes place ''principally at the distributor/dealer level.''
''Corrupt dealers'' make it easy for criminals and juveniles to buy guns, Mr. Ricker said, by allowing practices like ''straw sales,'' in which an individual buys a gun on behalf of someone who is prohibited from purchasing a gun because of a criminal conviction or his age.
''Leaders in the industry have long known that greater industry action to prevent illegal transactions is possible,'' Mr. Ricker said, particularly through a network of manufacturers' representatives who stay in close touch with dealers. But industry officials have ''resisted taking constructive voluntary action,'' he said, and have ''sought to silence others within the industry.''
This has resulted in a ''see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach,'' Mr. Ricker said, and encouraged ''a culture of evasion of firearms laws and regulations.''
The gun makers became sufficiently concerned about their potential liability, Mr. Ricker said, that they convened annual meetings from 1992 through 1997, which he attended. A major subject was whether it would be good to take voluntary action to better control the distribution of guns.
But, Mr. Ricker said, ''the prevailing view was that if the industry took action voluntarily, it would be an admission of responsibility for the problem.''
Ricker was also a co-founder of the American Hunters and Shooters Association, a more moderate gun rights group that has been willing to acknowledge the legitimate public safety concerns aroused by gun violence in this country. I know that AHSA is labelled "anti-gun" for this stance. I fail to see AHSA as being "anti-gun".
In fact, I see AHSA as still supporting "gun rights", but I've read their material. Have you read Zak's Blog? That is a pretty "gun rights" orineted blog to me.
Anyway, it's too bad that we are losing a voice like Bob Ricker who passed away from Cancer last Friday. My condolences to his family.