REVIEWSrnTerms of Revilementrnby David B. KopelrnMaking a Killing:rnThe Business of Guns in Americarnby Tom DiazrnNew York: New Press;rn258 pp., $25.00rnMaking a Killing, which may be thernmost influential anti-gun book everrnwritten, could not have been betterrntimed to the current wave of lawsuitsrnagainst gun companies, since many ofrnthe legal claims closely resemble therncharges that Tom Diaz makes against therngun industry. Moreover, the book willrnlikely help shape public opinion regardingrnthe gun issue in general and gunrncompanies in particular, thereby reducingrnthe prospect that state legislatures orrnCongress will enact legislation to prohibitrnthe lawsuits.rnYet Diaz’s work will also be of interestrnto persons who are not much interestedrnin tiie gun issue. Making a Killing, forrnone tiling, is the first book to analyze thernAmerican firearms industry, previousrnones having concentrated on a singlerncompany (e.g., Winchester), its products,rnand the evolution of firearms design,rnrather than on the business decisionsrnfaced by company leaders. For another,rnthis book should be of interest to politicalrnscientists as an example of changingrnstv’lcs of political rhetoric and, in particular,rnfor the important step forward thatrnMaking a Killing represents in the tacticsrnof gun-control advocates, hi the past, therndebate has been over “gun control” — arnterm which resonates very negativelyrnwifli a large segment of the voting public.rn(Americans do not like being “controlled.”)rnThe gun-control debate hasrnbeen about restrictions on gun possessionrnby law-abiding citizens, and aboutrnwhether these restrictions can reducernmisuse of guns both by law-abiding citizensrnand by criminals. Yet the ver,’ termsrnof the debate, serving as they do to remindrnthe public fliat gun crime is causedrnby criminals with guns, put gun-prohibitionrnadvocates such as Diaz at a disadvantage.rnMoreover, the fundamental premisernof the gun-control movement—thatrnthe average American citizen lacks thernmaturity, intelligence, and emotional stabilit)’rnto possess a handgun and to use itrnfor personal protection —has not provedrnverv popular. Thus, in recent years, advocatesrnof gun prohibition have begun tornshift the emphasis of the debate awayrnfrom avoiding gun crimes toward “protectingrnthe children”: a rhetorical devicernintended to provide a genfler basis fromrnwhich to promote the same controls theyrnadvocated previously. And when a loadedrnphrase like “the children” is coupledrnrhetorically with “gun safety” (peoplernwho react badlv to “control” may respondrnfavorably to “safct”), tiie tactical advantagernbecomes all the greater.rnDiaz’s book seeks to change the moralrnthrust of the anti-gun argument: “Gunrnmanufacturers are evil and flierefore therngovernment should regidate their products.”rnMaking a Killing presents whatrnDiaz considers an expose of the sins ofrnthe firearms business — among them itsrnprofit motivation in wanting to sell morernand more guns. If, however, firearms arcrna legitimate consumer product (andrnAmerican law ver’ clearly says they are),rnthen making a profit by manufacturingrnguns is no more immoral than making arnliving selling books. Diaz asserts that thernAmerican firearms industry enjoys “incrediblernprofitability,” but he neglects tornprovide serious evidence. Instead, hernshows fliat Bill Ruger, the founder of onernof America’s most successful gun companies,rnis personally wealthy and belongs tornsome fancy clubs, and repeats —threerntimes! —Ruger’s 1959 remark, “We haverna little moncymaking machine here.”rnThe implication is that the rest of thernAmerican gun business is as profitable asrnRuger, which simply is not the case.rnRuger is the only firearms companyrnwhich is publicly traded, from which wernmight infer that other firearms companiesrndid not believe themselves profitablernenough to be taken public. Indeed, asrnanyone who knows anything about thernindustry knows, gun companies as financiallyrnhealthy as Ruger are few and farrnbetween. Colt, the most venerable namernin American firearms, has survivedrnbankruptcy only because of corporaternwelfare payments from tiie state of Connecticutrnand the U.S. government (in thernform of federal research grants to invent arn”smart gun” wliicli can only be fired byrnits owner). Significantly, lawsuits filedrnagainst handgun companies are predicatedrnon the common knowledge that hardlyrnany of the companies has enoughrnmoney to pay the costs of legal defense inrnover two dozen courtrooms.rnThe heart oi Making a Killing is anrnanalysis of changes in the handgun marketrnover recent decades. As of 1974, thernmajoritv’ of handguns sold in the UnitedrnStates were revolvers; today, the majorit)’rnare self-loading pistols. Indignantiy, Diazrndescribes how the American firearms industry,rnin recent decades, has attemptedrnto deal with the problem of market saturationrn(i.e., most men who want to own arngun already have one) in the way any rationalrnindustry would —by trying to sellrnits product to those who do not currentlyrnown it and to sell new products to peoplernwho already do. Gmi manufacturersrnhave implemented the first strategy byrnpitching firearms to women and by promotingrnyouth interest in the shootingrnsports. This program for market expansionrnis heartily disapproved of by Diaz,rnwho appears not to like anything thatrnpeople do with guns. He bashes not onlyrnownership of handguns for self-defense,rnbut sports such as Cowboy Action Shooting.rnHe criticizes American shootingrnranges which cater to foreign tourists forrnseeking to satisfy something he calls “gunrnlust.”rnDiaz regards the shift from revolvers tornself-loaders as a result of pernicious advertisingrntouting “firepower” as the dubiousrnadvantage of the new pistols. Hernoverestimates the role of advertising. Adsrnobviously affect consumer decisions; otherwise,rncompanies would not bother tornadvertise. Whether advertising can creaternand sustain demand for a productrntype which, in the absence of advertising,rnconsumers would not want is questionable.rnTo acknowledge this point, however,rnwould be to put the blame for increasedrnfirepower on the consumer,rnrather than on the gun manufacturer.rnAnd this in turn would move the gun debaternback a step to the “gun control”rnparadigm, with its associated politicalrnperils of offending tens of millions of consumersrnrather than a few dozen handgunrncompanies.rnDespite what Diaz implies, for manyrndecades gun companies have offeredrnconsumers a choice between revolversrnand self-loading pistols. The self-loadingrnFEBRUARY 2000/29rnrnrn