Guns.com loves talking to renowned journalist Paul Barrett, author of the NY Times best seller “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun.” Though he’s a non-gun owner who mostly identifies politically with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama, he consistently demonstrates that he has a keen understanding of gun culture, gun manufacturers and the gun community. In short, he gets us.
We met up with Barrett at the 142nd NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas, a few weeks ago to talk the defeat of the expanded background check proposal drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), what that means for gun owners moving forward at both the state and federal levels and the role that Glock is playing in the debate over gun control.
As far as the Manchin-Toomey Amendment is concerned, Barrett said there were two big observations one could take away from its narrow defeat: 54-46, six short of the 60 needed to ratify the bill.
“First of all, gun politics are unique, they’re just not like any other politics,” said the jovial, senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek. “I think in any other setting if you had public opinion polling going that way [80-90 percent supporting expanded background checks] it’ an easy victory.”
“Second thing is, gun politics to a greater degree than we normally think are state and regional oriented,” Barrett continued. “One way of thinking about what happened in Washington is thinking about the 2014 midterm elections, which trump public opinion polls.”
At the end of the day, lawmakers do not want to run the risk of losing their seat because they voted for gun control. While there’s no guarantee that that would happen, as Barrett noted, in their eyes it’s better to play it safe and defy national public opinion than to run the risk of pissing off one’s regional constituents.
Looking ahead, we asked Barrett if this defeat now makes gun owners more vulnerable as gun control advocates will undoubtedly use this loss as a rallying cry and a way to pressure weak-willed politicians to support more restrictive gun laws in the event of another mass shooting.
“I think there’s absolutely no doubt that if we have another terrible mass shooting incident, in the near future, there will be a fast renewed effort to pass something,” said Barrett. “And I think the chances will be better that something will pass.”
But again, Barrett warned that the real fight is at the state level, at least for now, where we are likely to see more states move in the direction of New York and Connecticut, which both passed sweeping gun control bills in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Lastly, we asked Barrett about Glock and their role in this whole debate over gun control. Again, he had two incisive comments.
“Two things, the first is writing really big checks to the National Rifle Association,” he noted. “Glock is really becoming one of the lead supporters of the NRA, which is striking given that it’s a foreign-based company not a Freedom Group or a Smith & Wesson or a Ruger.”
“The second thing to observe about Glock is the company otherwise has gone radio silent. It’s striking to me how little they’ve been saying to promote their products.”
But Barrett has at least one theory on why Glock has been so taciturn in recent months, in his words, “The continuing family turmoil back in Austria, which is intensifying not settling itself out in any way, is distracting the company.”
As Barrett reported last month, Helga Glock, the ex-wife of Gaston Glock, the creator of the iconic pistol, has filed a lawsuit in Austria for a significant stake in the company, and that lawsuit has made it’s way stateside.
This could certainly be the case, a house divided against itself has a tough time standing. And his final prediction? That the Glock divorce — a 49-year marriage that ended bitterly as the 83-year-old Gaston left 72-year-old Helga for a much younger woman — may indirectly result in the revelation of all kinds of additional stuff about Glock that even Barrett doesn’t know about.