As the gun control debate continues, Kevin D. Bradford,
an associate professional specialist in marketing at the University of Notre
Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, says the focus should be on those who
distribute guns, not solely on those who buy them.
Bradford and a team of researchers conducted a first-of-its-kind study on
the ways guns move from legal channels into the hands of criminals. In “Counter-marketing in the
Courts: The Case of Marketing Channels and Firearms
Diversion," published in TheJournal of Public Policy and
Marketing, they examined 28,000 pages of
court documents, looking at what kinds of guns were used in violent crimes and
what kinds of safeguards specific gun manufacturers had in place for
The gun industry is cloaked in
secrecy. About 1 percent of gun dealers are responsible for 45 to 60 percent of
guns involved in crimes. These dealers divert new guns intended for responsible
owners to those that gun restrictions are meant to keep away from the weapons.
Requiring background checks and
other proposed safeguards are seemingly reasonable policies, and my research
has found a negative relationship
between implementing safeguards and guns being used in crimes.
That’s a significant finding.
The problem lies in where new
guns are sent by manufacturers. We looked at the top manufacturers, which
accounted for 97 percent of all gun sales in the United States. A lot of them
are not safeguarding their distribution channels. They’re not making sure the
dealers are doing the things necessary so that their guns stay out of
What is needed is more vigilance
over gun distribution to help curb gun violence.
When manufacturers implement
safeguards in their distribution channels, their guns are not used as often in
crime. If those marketing principles were put in place, dealers would be
discouraged from selling guns to the wrong people. This isn’t about keeping
law-abiding citizens from having guns, (but) simply ensuring that the right
process is being followed from the very beginning.
If we can hold Hasbro accountable
for choking hazards for children, it seems reasonable that we should be able to
hold gun manufacturers accountable for their intermediaries who distribute to
criminals. Nobody seems to want the government involved in gun control, and the
government doesn’t have enough feet on the ground for the job anyway, so why
not get manufacturers involved? They should be held accountable.