by Greg Palast
He had accomplices. Don’t kid yourself: 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui didn’t forge his two little pistols in his smithy shop.
He had a dealer, a guns-and-bullets pusher-man who put the heat in his hand, took the kid’s money and pocketed it with a grin.
“Whether you are looking for a pistol for affordable training or simply the excitement of shooting, the P22 is the pistol for you!”
That’s the ad on the Walther website for the student-reaper, a Walther .22.
Not that Walther, or its fellow murder-maker, Glock, which crafted the other Weapon of Student Mass Destruction, the Glock 9mm, kept all of the killer kid’s money. The gun makers religiously tithe a portion of their grim reapings to their friends in Washington.
This report isn’t about gun control legislation or the right to bear arms or any of that sideways crap. This is about a group of co-conspirators who dropped two killing devices into the hands of someone who shouldn’t have had access to a plastic spoon.
But before we bring in the suspects for questioning, let’s pull back the camera lens for the bigger picture. Because what we saw at Virginia Tech was just a concentrated node of a larger, nationwide killing spree that goes on day after day in the USA. Eighty-thousand Americans take a bullet from a hand gun in any year. Thirty-thousand die. That’s one thousand shooting deaths off-camera for each victim at Virginia Tech.
Sundance Bush is right now at the school for his photo op. The President is, “saddened and angered by these senseless acts of violence.” But will our senseless and violent President do anything about it? He already has: On July 29, 2005, the US Senate passed, then Bush signed, a grant of immunity from lawsuits for Walther, Glock and other gun manufacturers.
Now, corporations that make hand-guns can’t be sued for knowingly selling firearms to killers. Like that? No other industry has such wide lawsuit immunity — not teachers, not doctors, not cops — only gun makers.
Here’s how Cho got his guns. It’s a story you won’t hear on CNN. It begins with something known as, The Iron Pipeline. At one end of the Pipeline are states like Alabama where gun laws are loosey-goosey. Gun makers including Glock stuff the ‘Bama end of the pipe with far more guns than can ever be bought legally in that state, knowing full well that the guns will be illegally shipped up the pipeline into states where gun laws are tougher. Virginia law prevents “gun-trafficking”; in Alabama, they could care less.
In every state in America, a bar owner is liable to lawsuit if a bartender serves too many drinks and a customer dies in an auto accident. Hand a chainsaw to a child, you’re in legal trouble. Until Bush signed the 2005 protect-the-gun-makers law, the same common law against negligent distribution applied to firearms.
Bush was aiming at Stephen Fox. Steven can describe feeling pieces of his brain fly from his skull after a mugger shot him. He’s permanently paralyzed. A jury charged the makers of .25-caliber hand guns with negligent distribution — and Bush went wild.
He was especially worked up because the City of New Orleans sued the gun makers for the cost of hospitalizing cops shot by armaments pooping out the end of the Iron Pipeline. The NAACP joined in the suit with the effrontery to demand the gun-pushers alter their marketing programs to keep their products out of the hands of maniacs and murderers.
Do the gun manufacturers know their .22’s are being used for something other than hunting long-horned elk? Every year, the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency sends 800,000 requests to the gun companies to trace weapons found at crime scenes. As Fox’s attorney told me, criminals are a much-valued, if unpublicized, market segment sought out and provisioned by these manufacturers.
But they’re safe, the gun-makers, even if we aren’t, because of Bush’s immunity law. But Sundance Bush didn’t act alone. There was Harry ‘Butch’ Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, riding shotgun on the immunity bandwagon.
The Walther .22 comes from Austria. Hitler came from Austria, too. The Glock 9mm student-slayer comes from Germany. With the legal protection handed them by Bush and Reid, the two Teutonic weapons profiteers can skip free of legal judgment with that line well-practiced by their countrymen: “We were only taking orders — for our product.”
This report is adapted from, “Just Put Down that Lawsuit, Pardner, and No One Gets Hurt” in the Class War section of the new edition of Greg Palast’s bestseller, “ARMED MADHOUSE: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of A White House Gone Wild.” Order it now at www.GregPalast.com before its official release next week.