January 10, 2011

Austria is a small country known for it’s music tradition (Viennese Classic), for its alpine tourist resorts and for a high quality product used and appreciated all over the world: The Glock semi-automatic pistol. Since 1982 Glock Ges.m.b.H. in Deutsch-Wagram in Lower Austria has manifactured some 2.6 million pistols and sold them to armies, police forces and private persons all over the world.

Glock pistols are used by more than 60 percent of US law-enforcement agencies. When officers began to replace their trusty revolvers, the Glock became one of the most popular police pistols. It was chosen because of its reliability, its ability to put out bullets at a rate of more than one per second, its lightweight polymer frame and the number of rounds it could carry: up to 33 in an extended magazine.

Glock products faced legislative restrictions in former years, because in the 1994 assault weapons ban the selling of high-capacity magazines that would enable to repeatedly fire without reloading was forbidden. The law drew stiff opposition from the NRA (National  Rifle Association) and expired under President George W. Bush in 2004.

Other manufacturers like Beretta, Walther, Browning have a hard time to compete with the Glock products, which sell in the U.S.A. from 500$ to 600$. One doesn’t have to pity the competitors of Glock. Small arms manufacturing in the States accounts for nearly 200 companies totaling 10,000 employees and because of lenient gun laws these companies are very profitable and have a combined annual revenue of 4 billion dollars.

All indicators point to an energized industry, with firearm manufacturers reporting increased production to meet the growing demand of the marketplace. Distributors and importers are enjoying brisk business and dealers indicate a surge in firearm sales. 14 million guns were sold in 2009, it was the best year on record and an increase of 2 million guns compared to 2008.

The USA has a rate of 90 percent hand guns per capita, the highest percentage in the world. It is three times more than in Germany, France, Sweden, 2.5 times more than in Iraq. From an estimated 850 million privately owned firearms worldwide, 270 million are owned by Americans. The USA has 4.6 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for 21 percent of all private guns in the world.

More infos here:

The spread and easy access to guns has some downsides. Though overall violent crimes decreased, the USA is in fourth place in the world with murders by firearms. Gun crimes have risen by 89 percent between 1999 and 2009. The number of injuries or deaths from gunshots has increased from 864 in 1998/99 to 1,760 in 2008/09, an increase of 104 percent.

Shooting incidents are a regular occurrence and often not even reported.

In November a 15-year-old pupil at Marinette High school in Northern Wisconsin held 23 students and a teacher hostage at gunpoint and later killed himself. In October in Salinas, California, a 15-year-old student was shot multiple times walking to his high-school class. A shooting at the Mid-Atlantic Christian University left a student dead and in Carlsbad, California, a man carrying a can of petrol and a 357-Magnum shot into the crowded playground of Kelly Elementary School and hit two girls. In September in Austin a student killed himself after running amok with an AK-47.

Three years ago, student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute before committing suicide.

Michael Moore made an acclaimed documentary: Bowling for Columbine.

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