Journalist Paul Barrett has written a New York Times best-selling book about the Glock semi-automatic pistol, a weapon that’s known as “America’s gun.”
And in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, he offers an intriguing look at the history and popularity of the gun — and observes that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s call for a ban on many semi-automatic weapons is spurring Americans to “buy them up like crazy.”
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The Glock is the favored handgun of 65 percent of law enforcement personnel in the country, and tragically, was one of the weapons used by the shooter in the Newtown, Conn., massacre.
Barrett is an assistant managing editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, and his book is titled “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun.”
He tells Newsmax how the Glock — designed for the Austrian Army in the 1980s — became so popular in the United States.
“Its first big breakthrough in this country was with the police,” he says.
“In the mid- and late-1980s, police departments all across the United States, particularly in major urban centers, came under the impression that they were out-gunned by the bad guys, particularly drug gangs trafficking, at the time, in crack cocaine. And police officials became convinced that the traditional Smith & Wesson revolver, which carries five or six rounds depending on the model, was insufficient to protect their men and women on the street.
“Gaston Glock and his sales people stepped forward and said we have the pistol of the future and it holds 17 rounds, and an 18th round if you wish in the chamber, and is very durable, reliable, easy to learn how to use, and the police departments rushed to it.”
Barrett says the rapid rise in the Glock’s popularity parallels the rise of the Colt in the 19th Century.
“There is a helpful historical analogy in the phenomenal commercial and ultimately cultural success that Sam Colt experienced when he introduced the series of revolver handguns, the famous Peacemaker, the gun that won the West. He was Gaston Glock’s precursor.
“He too benefited from the fact that his firearm was first embraced by the law enforcement of the time, which was not that similar to our modern police departments but had more of a military feeling to it. For example, when the Texas Rangers embraced the Colt revolver, that was a huge advantage for Sam Colt.”
Glocks have been controversial from the beginning because people initially thought the composite material it is made of would make it invisible to airport security.
“Gun control proponents inaccurately alleged that the Glock would be a particular threat for use in hijackings, the notion being that it would defy airport security, which was incorrect,” Barrett says.
“An X-ray machine will pick up a gun-shaped piece of industrial plastic the same way it will pick a gun-shaped piece of metal. And if the gun is to be of any use to a good guy or a bad guy, it needs ammunition and the ammunition the Glock uses is the same as the ammunition used by other guns.
“So that was sort of a bogus controversy. There were congressional hearings, newspaper editorials, and in the process the Glock received this huge burst of attention that made it basically the poster child of both the NRA and more importantly of gun consumers, people who like to own firearms, attention that would’ve been basically impossible for it to have gotten so quickly upon its introduction.
“Ever since then, the next stop being the so-called assault weapons bans enacted in 1994, efforts to target particular kinds of firearms have resulted in the opposite of what the proponents of the restrictions seek.”
When the ban on assault weapons expired in 2004, “gun control proponents made a stink but they just didn’t have much of a political chance of doing anything about it,” Barrett tells Newsmax.
“We’re already seeing that Sen. Feinstein’s [call for a] renewed assault weapons ban is having the opposite effect of what she intends. She wants to see fewer of these weapons in private hands in the United States. Well, since Newtown, since the reaction to Newtown has been the idea of banning these types of rifles, the store shelves have been cleared. People are buying them up like crazy and that will continue.
“As long as the ban is being pushed, the demand will be heightened, and manufacturers, as they did in the 90s, will find workarounds.
“You can see that as a good thing or a bad thing. The manufacturers think they’re very clever. Gun rights advocates think it’s a righteous cause. Other people see it as the gun industry defying the spirit of the law and using loopholes. But either way, whatever your partisan position is, the upshot is that the demand will increase, and in a free market, when the demand increases, even with efforts to prohibit, people who are selling will find a way to connect with people who want to buy.
“We’ve had this lesson in American history a number of times, most strikingly, of course, with prohibition of alcohol.”
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