Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Holding Gunmakers Accountable

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Holding Gunmakers Accountable

Article excerpt

REMEMBER that sick feeling last year when we learned that yet another lonely young man went on a killing spree in a Connecticut school with the kind of semi-automatic rifle that soldiers carry? Remember the photos of the smiling first-graders and school staffers who were murdered?

The death toll from the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which took place a year ago yesterday, was 26 -- 20 kids and six adult educators, including the school principal, who tried to confront the killer. All shot to death in about six minutes.

Remember what America did about this -- and other recent mass shootings?

The answer: virtually nothing.

Well, stay tuned.

Out of Jersey City comes a proposal that could potentially change the gun control debate. The idea is the work of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, an ex-Marine, and it cuts right to the heart of the power of America's gun lobby -- money.

Bid process

The story begins with a decision by Jersey City's police department to solicit bids from gunmakers to buy new guns and ammo - - about $200,000 in new rifles and pistols and $150,000 in bullets. In case you're wondering, this kind of expenditure is typical of most cities. Indeed, police and the U.S. military are the prime customers of America's gun manufacturers. The contracts amount to millions of dollars.

So Fulop had an idea. Why not use the power of the purse to get the attention of the gunmakers? And if Jersey City is going to give such a huge chunk of cash to America's gunmakers, why not ask a few questions?

Think of this as akin what many food-savvy customers do in restaurants. As they are about to order an expensive meal, don't they have the right to ask what kinds of ingredients the chef is mixing in the sauce? Of course they do. No one would object to that - - not even restaurant owners who want to please their customers.

In Jersey City, Fulop is using a similar strategy. In bid specifications published last week, Jersey City announced that any gunmaker who applies for the police guns and ammo contract will have to answer these questions as part of a clause in the contract on "vendor background."

Commitments

What do you do to combat illegal gun trafficking and illegal gun crime? …

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