UC Davis violence prevention researcher Garen Wintemute today released a study showing that a small group of handgun manufacturers in the Los Angeles area manufactures most Saturday Night Specials used in the United States.
The six manufacturers are responsible for producing at least 80 percent of the easily concealed, inexpensive handguns made in this country, according to the study "Ring of Fire: The Handgun Makers of Southern California," released today by the Violence Prevention Research Program at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center.
Further, the researchers report that the guns made by the so-called Ring of Fire manufacturers are disproportionately used in crime.
"In California and across the country, we found that the list of guns most frequently confiscated by law enforcement agencies is dominated by Ring of Fire handguns," said Wintemute, director of the violence prevention group, which investigates the causes, nature and prevention of firearms violence.
"According to gun tracing data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ring of Fire guns are 3.4 times as likely to be involved in a crime as are handguns from other major manufacturers. And our research shows that the number of guns that Ring of Fire manufacturers produce is increasing.
"In each of the two most recent years for which data are available, these companies increased their output by more than 20 percent. Meanwhile, handgun output declined for the rest of the industry during that same period."
Firearms experts consider most of these guns, which are made at a rate exceeding 685,000 a year, to be poorly manufactured, unreliable and in some cases unsafe, said Wintemute.
"If these guns were made outside of the United States, most of them couldn't be imported," said Wintemute, attending physician in emergency medicine and associate professor in the Department of Community and International Health at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center. "They are too easily concealed to meet minimum federal standards, or they would fail other required design and performance tests.
"But they are protected in this country. While federal law prohibits the importation of guns like this by imposing size, design and performance standards, Congress has deliberately exempted American companies and has prohibited federal regulatory agencies, such as the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, from taking action."
The Ring of Fire manufacturers named in the report are Arcadia Machine and Tool in Irwindale, Bryco Arms in Costa Mesa, Davis Industries and Lorcin Engineering in Mira Loma, Phoenix Arms in Ontario and Sundance Industries in Valencia.
"All but Arcadia Machine and Tool are controlled at least in part by members of a single, extended family," Wintemute said.