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U.S. Regulators Call Off Antitrust Probe Of Gun Industry

By Agence France-Presse U.S. regulators have holstered a three-year investigation targeting firearms makers, finding insufficient evidence they colluded to boycott Smith & Wesson Corp. after it undertook gun-control measures scorned by the industry. The Federal Trade Commission will take no action against gun makers and distributors accused of engaging in an illegal, anti-competitive campaign to dissuade dealers from buying Smith & Wesson products, FTC spokeswoman Brenda Mack said Aug. 27. "We've closed the investigation," she said. The industry's leading trade association welcomed the news, saying the probe had been baseless. "The investigation was always politically motivated," said Lawrence Keane, vice president and general counsel at the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which also was a target of the investigation. In 2000 the FTC began investigating allegations that gun industry players were conspiring against Smith & Wesson after it reached agreement with the Clinton administration to implement measures including mandatory background checks on customers, gun locks and child-safety devices. The Bush administration has since scrapped the agreement, in exchange for which several lawsuits against Smith & Wesson were dropped. The FTC probe came to a quiet halt Aug. 22, when the commission sent letters to the National Shooting Sports Foundation and others in the industry, confirming it had closed its file on the matter. "This does not mean that a violation did or did not occur, so the commission reserves its right to take action again in the future if necessary," said Mack. Smith & Wesson was unavailable for comment. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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