Cops, Priests Urge Smith & Wesson to Make Guns Safer

(Bloomberg) -- American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, is being urged to examine its safety practices and standards by leaders of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a law enforcement organization which represents dozens of large North American police departments. 

The company’s “firearms are the most commonly used guns recovered at crime scenes by police departments in many cities across America,” the letter, signed by Montgomery, Maryland, police chief J. Thomas Magner and Houston, Texas, police chief Art Acevedo states. “We believe that this distinction brings with it a heightened responsibility for leadership in the area of gun safety and security.” Magner and Acevedo are the outgoing and incoming presidents of the association. 

American Outdoor did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on the letter.

The chiefs addressed the letter to American Outdoor chief executive officer, P. James Debney. It asks the to company create a plan to address gun theft, the safety of its distribution network, and accidental discharge of firearms. The letter further asks the company to investigate how to make firearms easier to trace for police officers and how to discourage the resale of its guns on the secondary market, which doesn’t require background checks. 

“Law enforcement has some of the tools—but not all of them,” Acevedo said in a statement. “Our message to Mr. Debney and the other CEOs is, you have a leadership role to play too.  We can’t do it without you.”

Magner and Acevedo’s letter received a statement of support from Do Not Stand Idly By, an organization made up of law enforcement leaders, medical and public health professionals and religious leaders which promotes smart guns. In a SEC filing earlier this month, Smith & Wesson said it does not invest in research and development for smart gun technology because it does not believe such a product would interest consumers.   

The letter comes ahead of American Outdoor annual shareholders meeting next Tuesday. At the meeting, investors will vote on a variety of proposals, most notably whether the company should be compelled to create a report on the risks of selling firearms. Earlier this year, investors in Sturm, Ruger & Co. voted that the gunmaker must put together a comparable report. 

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.