By Larry Keane
At the intersection of the academic and think tank worlds there is almost no complicated issue that can’t be solved with an outrageous proposal. A new idea from that quarter to solve the “gun problem” is to legally enable America’s firearms manufacturers to act as a “cartel.” Stunning. So, the problem to be solved is not the criminal activity and the complicated societal causes. It’s all about the gun.
Here is the opening argument in a short essay, co-authored for the left-leaning Brooking Institution by a Yale University lawyer and economist and a University of Texas law professor, respectively. The prose is replete with the elitist, self-evident as they define gun-control terminology we have come to expect:
One of the more daunting tasks in the current struggle to pass sensible gun control legislation is how to neutralize the political power of gun manufacturers who potentially have hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.
But there is a straightforward, if perverse, way to co-opt the gun industry into supporting some restrictions: Help firearm manufacturers cartelize their industry. Congress could immunize gun manufacturers from antitrust liability — making it legal for them to collude and raise gun prices.
With so much revelatory and condescending bad thinking packed into these sentences, it’s hard to know where to start. To begin, firearms manufacturers, like most businesses, want to be independent entities, operating in a market that even with the considerable regulations now in place still allows for innovation, customer responsiveness and competition. They would not go gently into a co-opted cartel future. Nor should they. It’s not the American way of business. At least these academics admit it’s gun control by other means.
What they Want: Government Ringmaster
The authors want to control guns so badly that they suggest the “government might act as a cartel ringmaster affirmatively facilitating private collusion…” just like major league baseball. This collusion, they argue, would force the government-sanctioned gun cartel into a tobacco industry-like settlement facilitating “huge price increases.” So avaricious are America’s gun makers, in their view, that they will accept selling far fewer of their products in return for much higher prices.
So, the professors want to price out of the market a huge swath of citizens, the Second Amendment be damned. Well, that’s not going to happen.
Welcome to the Real World
The idea that the firearms industry would agree to operate as a cartel while agreeing to deny citizens their Constitutional right to acquire a firearm is ludicrous and shows that this academic duo knows nothing about the industry or its customers – let alone their ongoing interaction of the marketplace.
It’s clear the authors have never been part of a Ford-Chevy debate or 1911-Glock debate. Much less the finer points of whether it’s better to hand-load your own ammunition or buy the market’s growing array of match-grade offerings. This is not their world. They don’t care to understand it.
If these Professors had the opportunity to present their musings on the manufacturing floor to a CNC machinist, on the gun range with a target shooter or in a duck blind with a hunter, we’re pretty sure you would be laughed out of the place. And rightly so.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.