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I am a lifelong gun buff who has done a lot of growing up on this issue, and I applaud your HOT GUNS segment. The argument that cheap shoddy guns are needed for protection by low-income people doesn't wash; you can obtain a decent used revolver for the price of a Lorcin .380, or a good used shotgun for even less. People of all income levels who feel the need for a gun have options other than the products of such an irresponsible and venal operation.

Terrence Wildman
Wheatland, CA


I think the problem with gun related crime can not be fixed by eliminating people's right to own guns or establishing gun bans. Even without guns, if a criminal wants to kill someone, he will find some way. If he wants to rob somebody, he can use a knife. After all, there were robberies, rapes, murders committed before firearms were even invented. I don't believe it was any safer to walk on the street 300 years ago. In Russia, no one can own guns, but yet, their crime rate, including violent crime rate is very high. We cannot cure diseases by treating the symptoms; we got to get to the causes. We need to prevent people from becoming criminals, and give much tougher punishment to those who do become one.

Xu Hsiao
El Cerrito CA


There was a person who made the show - it will be biased in some way no matter how hard one tries. Credit needs to be given to PBS for pointing out that there are more issues involved than just guns are good vs. guns are evil. I would love to see another show that shows another point of view and/or delves deeper into the issues brought up. That is what PBS does well! This show just hit the surface of an issue that covers so much ground. It is unrealistic to assume that one hour can thoroughly cover all sides equally AND effectively.

I am not in favor of gun control under the guise that it will stop criminals from getting the guns. That won't work. Hot Guns just reinforced that opinion, if nothing else. But I am also in favor of control of the gun industry. The security issues brought up really surprised me and worried me since I know how difficult it is to get into a school library! It looked easier to steal a gun from that factory than a book from the public library! Another way of looking a this is to compare Lorcin to a pharmaceutical company. I can't imagine Lorcin's security level at a places that manufactures even aspirin! The public would be outraged. (I admit I don't really know, but assume this from working in a hospital and knowing those rules.)

Boston, MA


As a gun rights supporter, your program made me quite angry, not for the obvious reason you might suspect, but because of what I learned about the non-existent security at Lorcin. The theft of these guns to be used by criminals (who can't buy guns legally) only lends fuel to the anti-gun fire. For a gun manufacturer not to realize this, and not to do something about it, shows that they are in it for the short term profit, and not to ensure people's civil liberties as Lorcin claims. Before you think I completely agree with your program let me continue. While I personally would not purchase a Lorcin gun, or any other inexpensive gun, I do see the validity of the argument that poor people can only afford those types of guns.

I do believe everyone has a right (and a duty) to defend themselves and their fellow citizens. To ban these types of guns would clearly infringe upon that right/duty for those who cannot afford $600.00 guns. Unfortunately, crime disproportionately affects those very people. Perhaps a better solution would be to ban being poor? Then we don't need cheap guns, and crime, being disproportionately committed by the economically disadvantaged, would also dramatically decline.

What we need to figure out is how can we keep guns (of any type) of out the hands of people who have demonstrated misuse or who are not old enough to own them, while not infringing on my rights? I should never have to pay any price for what criminals do. Instant checks are a good idea, and I think they will prevent some gun crimes by preventing previously convicted (but mysteriously out-on-the-street) violent felons from purchasing guns. However, it won't stop the majority of them. What is the real problem? How do 16 year old kids get guns, and how do we stop them, without stopping me from getting them? Increased security at places like Lorcin might be a start (but they might not help much at all).

What we ultimately have to decide is how much liberty are we willing to give up to solve this problem? Even if we gave up all our liberty, would the problem be solved?

I for one am not willing to give up any of my liberty because some gang-banger in L.A. shot someone (especially another gan-banger), or some crazed mad-man went on a rampage. I didn't do it, so don't punish me.

What we don't need are European solutions to our problems. They aren't solutions. In every European country that has strict gun control laws, they have always been in response to increasing gun violence, and have, in every case, failed to curb it. America was founded on Libertarianism, lets not turn it back into Great Britain.

Scott M. Baugher
Alta Loma, CA


Since the signing of the Constitution, and surely even today, American's are in love with guns, that is those who have yet to be victimized by them. With the tens of thousands on the streets unaccounted for, it will not be long before someone you know or a loved one falls prey as you made evident in your recent broadcast. It is indeed unfortunate that our leaders lack the will, profiteers lack the moral courage, and consumers lack the restraint to turn this around. Unfortunately, the old adage "if you shoot at nothing, you'll hit it every time" only applies to current methods to track weapons in this country.


I think I heard in the Frontline program that 10% of Lorcin's production is used in crime. If that's true then 90% are not used in crime! If we factor in all the guns stolen from the factory what percent of guns legally bought are used in crimes?

Maybe the vast majority of guns are actually used legally as self defense weapons as claimed. The police can't be everywhere and sometimes you have to depend on yourself. I'd rather have a gun when someone is breaking into my home than just call 911.

Lorcin's lack of security can't be excused. Guns are a controlled product. I would expect ATF to take some action and to see some private law suits. If the pressure on Lorcin is so much that they go out of business, so be it. But I don't think we need more gun laws.

Mark Martin
Hayward, CA


Gun laws are edicts, by people who have no clue. No law ever stopped anything from happening. Our nation is supposed to be one thing above all else: free. When a law is made that demands the results of a bad act be the thing punished, and not the act itself, then the consequences will be the thing that leads to more self responsibility.

Gun laws, or more correctly - anti-gun laws, are in reality anti-tool laws, for what is a gun if it is not in reality a tool? Any tool can be misused or abused. To single out a specific tool, speaks volumes about bigotry. But because a tool cannot speak for itself, or ask for protection from slanderous statements from a court of law, it is open to every possible attack by those who are unthinking enough to consider the ill-logic of their own acts.

The gross result of any law that seeks to impose a penalty as a means of preventing an act, is to remove self respect and self responsibility from those who are subject to that law. Tis is so, because the law in speaking of preventing an act, says that the people are not responsible enough for their own actions. If the law simply stated, that as a result of irresponsibly exercising a Right, you have caused others to suffer in a measurable and definable way, you shall be punished as the law reasonably permits, the respect for the law and its constraints would have greater impact.

The bottom line then, is that no law ever stopped anyone from doing anything. Only the law abiding obey laws, and only the law abiding are disenfranchised from what otherwise would be a lawful act, were it not for the obfuscationing, dissembling, and outright lies spoken on behalf of ever more authoritarianism by our elected officials - who really should know better.

But, alas, it is mostly the fourth estate. which of late has become the fifth column in convincing Americans that freedom is much too dangerous a condition to suffer, and must give over to tyranny, sweet, sweet tyranny, where everything is so very safe and protected, until you become the next bad example.

Edward J Totty
Everett, Washington


It was interesting to note in your documentary how the president of the gun manufacturer stated that none of the pistols themselves stolen from his factory killed anyone because, he says, "somebody" had to squeeze the trigger. He should have added in that same passive defense that "somebody" pulled the trigger because "somebody" else, namely his company, allowed the guns to leave the warehouse undetected.

This is not a question of gun rights nor ownership. It is a basic question which every good gun owner in NRA class 101 knows the answer of: common sense and respect in the handling and supervision of a gun.

The CEO's elusive response to his company's mishandling of the theft of guns makes as much sense as the Texas rustler who told a judge: "Your honor, I did not steal the horses. Sure, I got on them, but it was the horses that rode me out of the stable". The president of the gun manufacturer makes money off the guns. In turn, he should come forward and bear responsibility for his company's shortcoming.


I am posting this quite a few days after the show was aired and many of the details of the show have left me. So, I can only speak of the my general thoughts on the show. My first impression of the ATF agent was that he was dedicated and really cared about what he was doing. I thank god there are law enforcement officers like him in this country. My other impression was that the show was difficult to follow.

I had not heard anything about the show previous to viewing it so I was not sure what to expect. What I found was that the show meandered between condemning a criminal for stealing guns from his employer and then selling them illegally on the street to condemning the owner of the low price weapons producers.

Somehow I fail to see the connection. If the owner of the weapons manufacturing plant is required by law to have certain security measures in his plant then surely he should be prosecuted for this violation. However, just because the plant was not as secure as some does not mean the employees have a right to steal. The bottom line is the fault lies with the employee who stole the weapons and then sold them illegally on the street.

The owner of the plant should not be held liable for something which he did not condone or would have stopped had he known. I think another point of logic was missed in the show and that is that these inanimate objects that we call guns can no more kill a person of themselves as a baseball bat can laying on the ground.

It's time to put the blame for gun violence where it belongs blame the perpetrator of the violence and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law regardless of what type of weapon they use.

Mick O'connel


Having just watched your "Hot Guns" broadcast, I couldn't help but wonder if US. Attorneys are quick to prosecute low level criminals (easy statistics), they are far more reluctant to pursue corporations and executives. It seems that when they do take action against those groups, their weapons are negotiation, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution rather than criminal prosecution.

ATF Special Agent McCrary and his colleagues are brave men doing dangerous work. Is their courage being matched by that of Justice Department attorneys?

Joe Banas
St. Paul, MN


In 1986 my wife held off an intruder who broke in through the patio doors. She confronted him with a Smith & Wesson 38 special. I was out of town and my wife and teen age daughter were home alone. Don't tell me I shouldn't have a gun in my house. Your piece on affordable handguns was simply another hit piece on hand guns. My wife and three daughters have been brought up learning how to safely own and operate a firearm. If Frontline is truly objective about your editorial content then you might consider a piece about the estimated 2.5 million people each year that because of the mere presence of a firearm were not a victim, but then you and I both know that will never happen.

Cupertino, Ca


I suspect that all the heat PBS has taken re funding, et al, in the recent past has caused a perceptible shift in your objectivity. I am an avid shooter, an opponent of gun control in general, and I believe you did a fair and reasonably well-rounded piece compared to your past offerings regarding this general subject area.

What is further interesting are the mail comments that seem to leap toward litigation. Not surprising, but interesting.

Tom Foeller


There are no good guns, there are no bad guns. Any gun in the hands of a bad man, can be used for evil. Any gun in the hands of a good man, can be used properly, responsibly and for good. When the focus is placed on criminal behavior or on exceptionally negligent behavior, then we can help our society be a better place.

By focusing on an inanimate object, which by definition is amoral, and can be used to either save a life or take a life or for recreation, etc. is just plain distracting. I wish this could be realized by reasonable people of goodwill throughout this land. I urge all Frontline viewers to learn more about the history of firearms in America and how gun control laws have strangely skewed our culture by reading a recent book entitled "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross. You can easily order it through as it is doubtful that it can be obtained at your local bookstore. There you can find out about the real "gun culture" in America - a culture that many Americans wish to sacrifice on the pretend-altar of crime control. Thank you for the opportunity to respond on your excellent web site!

John Posthill
Garner, NC


I saw this show last night and was very disappointed at the nearly content-free presentation. Very few facts were presented, and the majority of the show seemed to be a collective wallow in hand-wringing and menacing close-ups of criminal hardware complete with minor-key soundtrack. The whole production was more worthy of Hard Copy or something similar rather than the usual careful work I'm used to from Frontline.

Several specific examples made lasting impressions: Dr. Wintemute's hand-waving away of Dr. Kleck's self-defense study (acknowledged by criminologist Marvin Wolfgang and verified by Professor Cook's study, both pro-gun-control allies of Dr. Wintemute), without having to present any evidence of his own. The cavalier juxtapositioning of statistics of increased gun sales and youth violence, implying without any proof that one is the cause of the other. (Could not increased crime cause the law-abiding to buy guns in their own defense?) The good Doctor's demonstration of a single jam of one of the guns in question (virtually all semi-auto guns will jam at least once in their lifetime), commenting that a person defending himself would now be facing his attacker unarmed, without bothering to answer the unspoken question of how he would then be any worse off than if he had no gun at all.

The most glaring omission was made obvious by the repeated assertion that economically-priced handguns were preferred by criminals and were disproportionately used in the commission of crime. No statistics were ever presented, however, as to how prevalent these guns are in the general population compared to their use in crime.

If, as the manufacturer pointed out, Americans buy more Chevys than Cadillacs, then the criminal use of these guns would be in proportion to their general availability.

But even more obvious was the lack of any information on how often the guns in question are used in self-defense scenarios. Even if they are the criminal's choice in guns, they may well be the self-defenders choice of guns to an even greater extent. To one-sidedly examine one aspect without the other would be like evaluating doctor's effectiveness by the number of deaths caused by malpractice (currently about 180,000/year, according to the 1990 Harvard Medical Practice Study) without ever discussing how many people they save.

It is legitimate for Frontline to point out the flaws in the security at these manufacturing plants, but what was never mentioned, either by Frontline or the ATF agents it interviewed, is that all firearms manufacturers must be licensed by the ATF. The ATF currently has strict security requirements placed on all firearms dealers, and inspects those sites for compliance, and there is nothing that would prevent them from doing the same for manufacturers. If there is a lack of security in the firearms manufacturing industry, the ATF bears a large part of the blame for not exercising its oversight responsibilities.

I'd also like to note that, in the local ordinances passed by the 20 or so California cities and counties mentioned in the Frontline story which ban low-cost handguns, every one of those ordinances contain exceptions for law enforcement officers. That's right: The guns you've been told are inaccurate, jam, and blow up in your hand, magically become safe and reliable tools for establishing law and order when in the hands of government employees charged with defending our society. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Eric Williams
Richmond, CA


After watching your program on guns, I came up with this idea: how about requiring that all guns be equipped with a camera that is activated with each shot. And, the gun cannot be fired if the mechanism is covered up or tampered with. Obviously, gun manufacturers wouldn't be terribly enthusiastic about this, but if we can require airbags in cars, why not this.

I have never seen a gun outside the TV or movie screen or in the holster of a policeman. I hope I never do. But for those for whom a gun is a necessity, the least the rest of us can ask is that this "necessity" cannot be used as if the mayhem it causes will be interrupted by commercials--and the dead bodies will spring in another movie or TV program.

Yours truly,
Bobbie Savitz
Portland, Oregon


This is in reference to the show "junk guns". I just watched the show and found poor law enforcement. Something like this should never be allowed to happen, however I would like to comment that at least SMITH & WESSON was mentioned in doing things the correct way. Possibly PBS is not anti-gun, just showing us the crime of illegal production of firearms. I think now PBS should go to S&W and let us see the correct way to manufacture, use and enjoy firearms.

John N.H.


While it is appalling that so many guns have ended up on the streets illegally, I still believe you have erred in your remarks about the quality of these so-called "Junk Guns". One of your interviewees stated that Gun Test Magazine reported that no one should by a gun "for any price when it self-destructs after only two hundred rounds." ANY weapon will jam or explode upon firing if it is not properly maintained, including such "quality" guns as Beretta, Glock, Colt, Smith & Wesson, etc.

I myself own a Chinese-made, semi-automatic 9mm Uzi. After firing over 500 rounds, it began to jam. I then thoroughly cleaned and oiled it; problem solved. Incidentally, my Uzi qualifies as a "junk" gun, having cost me a mere $450.00 at a gun store, as opposed to the $1000+ it would have cost for a genuine Israeli model.

I'm afraid I have to agree with Mr. Lorcin - outlawing inexpensive weapons only adds yet another class to our supposedly "classless society", those who cannot afford to defend themselves.

Robert Anderson


I am a police officer, an avid shooter, a law-enforcement sales rep for a firearms dealer and absolutely aghast at what I saw in this episode of "Frontline." How any manufacturer can have a "leak" of 14,000 units of his product and not know strains credulity way past the breaking point! Why BATF hasn't pulled his license - without which he cannot legally operate - is beyond me!

I have seen them padlock small mom-and-pop gun stores for far less. I really don't understand it. For the record, I oppose most new firearms regulation as being redundant and unnecessary. We seldom prosecute for violations of the laws we currently have on the books - witness the Lorcin story! - so more unenforced laws will do no more good. If people want to go after Lorcins and their cousins, sisters and aunts on a product liability level, or cite them for fraud for selling a tool for self-defense which is unreliable, I could support that, wholeheartedly.

Ofc. J.C.Fraser-Paige
Alameda, CA


You went to great efforts to show that "junk guns" are worthless for self-defense because they are very likely to jam and are misused by criminals but you missed two very critical points.

(1) Even though your "junk gun" may jam on you when you face an armed intruder, it is much better to have a gun in the first place that may scare off the intruder without you ever having to fire a shot or allow you to fire a few shots before jamming rather than be totally unarmed because the only gun you can afford has been banned.

(2) If you have to faced an armed criminal, you want him to be armed with a small caliber "junk gun" that is likely to jam because it gives you the best chance of surviving the encounter.

Criminals will always have guns because having one is the only way they can carry on their "trade". Banning guns will never prevent crime just as banning murder does not prevent murders. Banning guns will remove guns off the streets just as effectively as banning drugs removes drugs from our streets.

The only way to stop violent crime is to allow law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon. If ever potential victim is potentially armed, it becomes far too hazardous for criminals to commit crimes against persons. Most will turn to property crimes. Those who continue pursuing a career of violent crimes will very quickly run into someone who will end their careers.

Concealed carry is the practical equivalent of having a cop on every corner.

Daniel Fu
S.F. , CA


Once again I see those who would scare the public into attempting to legislate a utopia where no one is ever wronged, and the government and other institutions would "make everything right". If so many people accept this idea without question, then perhaps those citizens don't deserve or even require the right to vote. None of the constitutional "Bill of Rights" would be required in a utopia.

The reality however is that people are imperfect, both leaders and followers and that the best we can do is to a reach a level of mutual respect for each other. To the enlightened, respect is an understanding, but to the consciences, respect is fear.

The laws are already in place to prevent most citizens from protecting themselves with a handy gun when attacked by violent criminals who have no care about minding the laws against their actions ...whether or not they use a gun. You mentioned something about the 1968 Federal gun control act, but appeared to gloss over that fact.

The Lorcin spokesman mentioned something about the largely unnoticed instances where potentially violent crimes were deterred or foiled by an armed citizen, and I for one am glad to be alive. The view you presented, as did the ATF agent, was that the public could not be trusted, because every gun that was unaccounted for represented a violent criminal act. With this kind of mindset it is always justified to restrict the citizen. I submit that it is easier and safer to spend ones time chasing after citizens concerned about protecting themselves than to confront violent people.

I believe that the 1968 ban was a wrong turn that we have never recovered from. In lieu of all of the laws restricting people from deterring crimes against them on the spot, wouldn't we be better off with more comprehensive safety training, along with more emphasis on instilling pride, confidence and respect for each other, like Thomas Jefferson envisioned.

James Bradshaw
San Bernardino, CA


I enjoyed your recent piece on Lorcin and I am quite surprised that given our litigious society that the trial lawyers haven't jumped all over this. Lorcin's lack security is clear negligence on their part and clearly contributed to the numerous crimes that were committed with those stolen guns. All the crime victims should be able to sue Lorcin, particularly that poor woman's family in NY. Are there suits pending?

Matthew Shapiro
Chicago, IL


Being on the outside of the US looking in it becomes clear that the occurrence of gun related crimes must be related to both the shear number of weapons and inadequacy of the US justice system. Based on this reasoning, gun laws in the US DO make it easy to put guns in the hands of criminals. One of the purposes of laws are to act as a deterrent, I would suggest that the deterrent embedded in the US justice system is, at best, a slap on the wrist, especially if the shooter doesn't kill his/her intended victim. Another obvious problem lies in the definition of criminals. Members of hate groups so called "law abiding citizens" are virtually immune to existing legislation in the US due to the notion that criminals are all flamboyant, walk up to someone in the streets and shoot them attitude portrayed on TV.

As far as amendments and the US constitution go, why is it so hard to see the dark ages to which some of these amendments owe their provenance. The "Rule of thumb" used to represent the diameter of a stick a man was allowed to beat his woman with, obviously a rule which has since been reconsidered. I would suggest that the US take a second look at their legislation as they move into the next century.

Jason MacKenzie
Victoria, B.C., Canada


I think the Frontline staff was a little weak in research on the Hot Guns Program. Sometimes a poor person defending their home cannot afford a $600 pistol. Also, it should be noted that the opening logo for Hot Guns on the web site shows the front of a Glock pistol with laser site ó by far not a cheap gun set up by any means. The folks at Glock should take offense at such a display.

I'd also like to note that on a recent trip to Rome, Italy, there were military police on every third street corner (one of each group had a sub-machine gun and body armor) and the hotel clerk told us to be careful of the Gypsies in the area ("They kill people, but they don't ever seem to report it in the newspapers," he said. Gotta love those low crime rates!!)

The US. is fortunate to not have the massive swings left and right in its government that the rest of the world seems to have. Guns seem to be a major factor in that stability, my friend in Germany told me in 1979 during a student exchange.

The constitution was written so that government could be contained, not so that a person could shoot ducks on a Sunday afternoon to put meat on the table. I like my government the way it is ó a lot more subservient to the public than I see any where else, even Switzerland, where I pleasantly learned every able bodied person is required to posses a full-automatic "assault" rifle. (They also have a very low crime rate, by the way.) I love Frontline, but this program should have been a multi-part series on guns, just as anything about Constitutional issues should be. Thanks for your time and an excellent web site.


Show about Hot Guns and the ring of fire gun companies. There are a great many question to be answered. But one question I cannot get out of my head is, why the victim or their families have not brought any lawsuit against Lorcin Engineering company? Because the weapons were stolen from the plant, the weapons belong to Lorcin Engineering, the company is responsible for their safe keeping and accounting. Only when the weapons are transfer to the distributor or warehouser dose the company no longer has responsibly for what happens to the weapon other than safe workings of the weapons.

Should the company fails to take reasonable measures to prevent theft of weapons or weapon parts and accountability of weapons serial numbers, then the company should bear the responsibly for any one who is harmed or kill by the firearms stolen in this manner.
Firearms are deadly weapons, there fore here what I would expect to see for any weapons plant. The plant should have a controlled entry point, all personal should have photo ID badges to control the movement of personnel (A person who paints the gun or stamping out the gun has no reason to be hanging around the shipping department.) There should be video cameras' cover the whole plant floors, to spot abnormal actives and take action. When the company received requests for information on weapon serial numbers and they found that they did not have any information about these weapons their accounting system should have raised a whole bunch of RED flags. We are not talking about someone or a group of organized people breaking into the plant and steeling the weapons nor are we talking about a squad of heavily armed people robbing the weapons plant at gun point.

We are talk about a WEAPON company allowing a situation where anyone can grab boxes of weapons and walk off with then without anyone know about it. That is what must make the weapon company responsible for anyone who is harmed or killed by any of those stolen weapons. Also, the negligence alone should be enough to bring the company up on criminal charges.

Geoffrey Drumheller


I'd like to thank Agent McCrary for his dogged pursuit and subsequent arrests of the criminals in question. I admire his tenacity and am indebted to him. Secondly, I think I watched a different program than many of the people who have already sent in comments. I didn't get the impression that this was an argument for 2nd amendment rights infringement. The most striking arguments were against the Lorcin company for what appears to be criminal negligence and against the antiquated tracking systems the AFT is forced to use. Of course, no law will protect us against the likes of people who steal from Lorcin and then turn a profit; But it is equally naive to believe that I will be safe if I carry a handgun and turn a blind eye to the actions of Lorcin in the name of capitalism.

Rebecca Davis


The focus of your program on "Hot Guns" seemed to have more of a political purpose than an thought-provoking presentation of ALL of the facts. Considering the fact that the state of Massachusetts was considering the enactment new handgun regulations during the broadcast of the program, the political statement of the producers of the program (WGBH of Boston, MA) seems even more clear. Any credibility that PBS had in non-bias reporting has been downgraded through this program.

In answering the question "Do our gun laws make it easy to put guns in the hands of criminals?" one must realize how many firearms laws there are in the US. There are over 20,000 laws in the US relating to firearms. Federal laws already prohibit felons from even possessing firearms. Federal laws prohibit people from one state buying handguns from another state. All states must check the background of each handgun purchaser. Perhaps before anyone answers that question, they should read up on the firearm laws in this country and then decide.

Auburn, AL


The difference between commercial and public television was clearly evident June 3, 1997. While channel surfing I became distracted by a segment of NBC's Dateline featuring a hard-hitting, no-nonsense look at taser-guns.

Dateline aired a segment on taser guns, those hand-held devices which allow muggers to provide muggers with a 50K volt jolt of electricity when they threaten to attack. Dateline was so in-depth. They interviewed spokespeople, victims and users of the device on both sides of the taser gun issue who provided vehement input.

They even interview the founders of AirTaser, a manufacturer of this new method of self defense. Dateline hit hard. How can you justify the manufacture of these weapons, which caused 1-2 deaths and may have contributed to the deaths of at least 5-10 others? How can you sell this device with only a 1/4 inch thick instruction and warning booklet, while police officers issued the device provide one which is 1/2 inch thick? How can you condone those gun shops which sell your product and do not take the time to fill out and mail the attached registration cards, which would identify the owner in case the device were used in a crime? How can you produce this dangerous, way-of-life threatening device?

By the end of the segment, I was mentally screaming, "HEY DATELINE, HEY NBC, WHAT ABOUT THE GUNS????" What about the product which made it easier to kill tens of thousands of people last year? What about the device with NO method of identifying the killer if the weapon is not recovered? What about the incredibly, ridiculously widespread gun ownership that makes those "child shoots sibling" accidents so common?

Shouldn't something that makes killing so many so easily be reported everyday, like a crisis situation, with statistics on deaths to date this year shown, and undercover cameramen purchasing guns on the street like ice cream cones, and urban children recounting the bloody horrors they have witnessed, and the proliferation of underground weapons trade be exposed? When will the media help us realize the extent to which we have made murder easy in the US.?

I changed the channel to PBS. Frontline was exposing the individual(s) responsible for putting thousands of guns in the hands of those least likely to use them for self defense. My thanks to Frontline, and PBS can count on my contribution this year.


At risk of being accused of being a part of an NRA campaign, I am going to address some of the things I've seen written here. It is obvious that many people want to take their own poorly reasoned ideas and force them upon everyone else. I've seen it stated that self defense is not a valid reason for owning a gun, as the writer "just doesn't see it" on the news. Do around 2.5 million times per year make it valid enough for you? Read the research of Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University (and not an NRA guy). How about "the only use for a handgun is killing people. You don't use them for anything else." Well, get ready for a news flash. One of the hottest trends in hunting is using a handgun. More challenging and all that. And to discount target shooting is ludicrous. I especially get a kick out of those who claim to be supporters of the 2nd amendment, and the next word is "but." The leaders of the antigun movement have said that they hate all guns. How much does it take to make you a believer. You don't think that bolt action deer rifle is on their list? Try calling it a "high-powered sniper gun, used by criminals for assassinations at up to half a mile."

More on topic, should Lorcin be held accountable for lax security? You better believe it. I think that they should be raked over the coals for allowing such things to happen. But PBS is using this as an opportunity to push for more gun control, and that is wrong. You'd better believe my Senators will hear about this.



According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP), police chiefs do not believe gun laws do ANYTHING to limit guns in the hands of criminals. I agree with them. In fact, studies by the Chicago P.D. and New York P.D. have shown that greater than 75% of homicide victims have extensive criminal records. That's ALL homicides, not just "gun" homicides. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine and Trauma Journal estimates that 90% of homicides are drug related.

This means that if you passed a "miraculous" law that would save every "innocent" potential homicide victim, that is, if only the criminals with extensive violent crime records were the "victims" of 1998, then our homicide rate would drop by less than 25%, and probably closer to a mere 10%!

It is not the law-abiding citizen, the police officer, nor the electric chair that is the greatest threat to the violent offender. The greatest threat to the longevity of the violent offender is the OTHER violent offender.

As long as there are criminals, they will have guns.

You also conveniently failed to note on your site that the Department of Justice maintains a list of the ten most common firearms used in crime, and NOT A SINGLE ONE of them is a so-called "Saturday Night Special" or "junk gun." In fact, the number one gun used in crime is the .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, which I might add, is one of the most popular police and home-defense weapons.

Those individuals who are selling guns illegally to kids or other criminals are FELONS. There are over 20,000 gun laws on the books in the United States. If there are violators, then they need to be prosecuted. It is not legal to sell a firearm to a minor anywhere in the US., so why do we need more laws saying that it is illegal to sell to minors (as the president did last week).

The existing laws are not being enforced, so more laws need to be passed that will deter murderers who are willing to kill people, but somehow have enough conscience to obey the latest gun law.

Can somebody explain to me just how this works?

You know, if banning guns prevents gun violence, maybe we should ban drugs!

Edward L. Patrick
Columbia, MD


Our country has enough, if not too many gun control laws. While it is deplorable that companies like Lorcin have security systems less adequate than most toy companies, they are not responsible for the actions taken by individuals who have legally obtained their products. This is America. If a company chooses to make a shoddy product then they will be successful. Their bottom line is profit margin. Security costs. For this I believe that the BATF has every right and obligation to shut them down. The next company that is created to fill the void in the old supply and demand curve might just do better. Certainly they could not be much worse. Kudos to Frontline for bringing such a bad company to light. Too bad this is being taken as a gun control issue. This should be a criminal justice issue. People who traffic stolen goods and people who commit violent crime with any weapon should be sent to a real jail. Many jails now are not any worse than where people normally live. The criminals rarely spend an adequate amount of time sequestered from society and in the rare case that a person is sentenced to death for killing another it takes so long to finish the job that in the end the crime is forgotten.

As has been so eloquently stated, "guns are not good or bad, people are".

Aurora, CO


At the close of 'Ring of Fire', a statement was made along the lines that 40,000 deaths occur in the US every year due to firearms. Where did this figure come from? Not from the FBI uniform crime reports - I have those. Not from the Bureau of Statistics reports - I have those, too. Is this a recycling of the figure for septic abortions used by the pro- abortion lobby when referring to the year prior to the Roe v. Wade decision? It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now. Your credibility is spiraling downward...

P. Harring
Marietta, GA


I Find it extremely troubling that in this day and age that so many people have a hard time facing the truth with gun control measures .Why are people so afraid of the words "responsibility" and "accountability" and find it easier to blame an object instead of an individual who commits a crime with a weapon be it firearm ,knife or a baseball bat. I am an Emergency Medical Technician in a city with a high crime rate and many shooting related injuries. However more than not, a shooter will plea bargain down to a lesser offense and be back on the street in less then six months. With a justice system that coddles criminals, prisons with leisure activities, medical care, and VCR's. And judges who have no backbone. I think I'll keep my "assault rifle" close at hand.

D. Mendenhall
Quarryville Pa.


My compliments on an excellent exposé. I was appalled by the apparent lack of interest in security by the head of Lorcin. He must be guilty of breaking some law. I wonder, how many lost lives can be traced to his irresponsibility? It seems rather ironic to me that a manufacturer of a supposed "home security device" would be so lackadaisical about his own plant's security. I hope every congressperson in the nation viewed your program and saw the injustice that is being perpetrated on the American public by their inability to tackle important issues such as tighter controls on handgun manufacturers. Instead of beating the White water non-issue into dust, they should be expending their energy and our tax dollars cracking down on the rampant proliferation of handguns into our midst. It is time for Congress to get its priorities straight!

Kevin Coates
Bethesda, MD


Hot Guns was an informative investigation into one aspect of firearms. Like cars, they can be stolen and used for criminal purposes. We try to prevent this.

Your web site is disappointing, however. The Gun Stats & Facts presented hint at a real bias against firearms in general.

There are 124,286 federal firearms licensees in the US and 391 ATF agents to regulate them. What's your point? There are 260 million people in the US and only 250,000 law enforcement officers to regulate them. Perhaps a better analogy: 260 million people with free speech and no free speech regulators. If you don't think speech can kill, think again.

Four federal safety standards apply to teddy bears and none to firearms. What's your point? I sure hope teddy bear manufacture has more federal safety standards. After all, a few million two year olds don't put firearms in their mouths every day.

When are you going to do a report on all of the lives saved by firearms? Keep in mind that it literally is viewers like me that support PBS.

Ken Johnson, P.E.
Fanwood, NJ


Mr. James Waldorf is a man of poor character. He seems to have a nice life dealing in fear, violence, and death. by not protecting his inventory against theft from outsiders and insiders he proves shows himself to be poor businessman. Refusing to take responsibility for his products shows him to be of poor moral character. If James Waldorf was the captain of a sinking ship I would expect him to be on the first life boat. Waldorf's business practices help to give America a bad name, but he loves the 2nd amendment.

Matt Simmons
Scottsdale, AZ


Do "Freedom" and "The right to bear arms" go hand in hand or is it just an American illusion? Is freedom being afraid of walking down the street unless you are armed or is it having the right to protect yourself against all the millions of other guns out there? Look around to other countries such as Canada or Great Britain do they have freedom, yes. Do they own guns, no.

Michael Wou
Montreal, Quebec


Excellent program! I am a strong advocate of the right to own arms for protection. I therefore consider shotguns and long rifles as the proper answer--and believe that was what the 2nd amendment meant. Pistols in those days were inaccurate and unreliable. No thinking person used one for home protection. Strong laws regarding manufacture, purchase and ownership of hand guns are absolutely appropriate and do not infringe on anyone's civil rights. Shooting enthusiasts will have no problem, only a lot of red tape to master.

Keep up the good work.

Vic Green
Anaheim, CA


From reading the existing post on this subject is obvious that Frontline has been the victim of a well organized letter writing campaign most likely orchestrated by the NRA. It is obvious that most of the posters did not actually watch the documentary, because their posts have nothing to do with the content of the program. The idea that firearms manufacturers do not need to implement strict security measures, because criminals have always been able to get guns and will always be able to get guns is farcical at best. I think that we saw last night were the criminals are getting the guns. Forcing firearms manufactures to actually take some responsibility for security will in no way hamper the ability of law abiding citizens to obtain firearms. It is appalling to think that someone would run a company in such a haphazard manner. It is almost like they want the guns to be stolen. Obviously the money saved from not having 14,000 weapons stolen would more than pay for any security measures that would need to be implemented.

Brian Sweat
Harrisburg, PA


An interesting story which lacks focus on its own title. Why did you not focus your attention on a shoddily run business making an equally shoddy product. Instead, the program was a thinly disguised attack on gun ownership. The ATF requires accurate record keeping on all phases of manufacture and distribution of firearms moving in interstate commerce. They are notorious for malicious prosecution of gun dealers who commit record keeping violations.

The timing of your program is highly suspect. There are several bills pending in the California legislature to be acted upon this week, which seek to restrict manufacture or commerce in these weapons. The outcome cannot be predicted. I hope your airing of this program has no influence.

Gary R. Fague


Until recently, I thought of the PBS system as being equal and unbiased, unlike some of the other larger broadcasting companies. I was so sadly wrong. I guess that you have jumped on the band wagon in pointing fingers at inanimate objects and say that they are the cause of deaths. Here was a totally one sided "report" on stolen firearms. The entire story focused, not on the fact that they were stolen merchandise, but on some notion that they were evil guns. How many were used to ward off attacks? I did not see this in any portion of the broadcast. I'll admit that the manufacturer was less than complete when it came to records and security, but the entire focus of the program was on these evil weapons. The focus should have pointed out that these were individuals willing to break any law to satisfy their greed of money. They should be prosecuted federally, since it is a felony to knowingly sell or transfer a known stolen firearm. If the individual that sold it, transferred it to a known felon, that is an additional charge. If all these people are so law happy, why not enforce the ones on the books?? Janet Reno should be out in the forefront leading the prosecutions of these criminals. What happened, where is she?? A firearm is good nor bad, it has no feelings. It is an inanimate object, much the same as a automobile. It can be used to save lives or take them, depending on who is behind the wheel.

Please don't count on my private contributions toward PBS broadcasting until I see an unbiased program on firearms.

K. Reder
Denver, CO


To those who claim that guns are useless in self defense, I would point out that my wife has used one to deter a shots were fired. Her ex-boyfriend used a handgun to drive criminals away...nobody was hurt. HIS ex-girlfriend shot one of a gang of four that were about to gang-rape her, thus stopping the crime. And a friend of mine drew his weapon to deter some criminals that were trying to force him off the road. No shots were fired.

I find it interesting that the gun-control camp has yet to explain how banning firearms will be any more successful at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals than the current draconian laws are at preventing the drug trade.

I also find it interesting that a poll of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association showed a strong leaning AWAY from gun control - to the point of 2/3 of the police officers polled saying that further gun control was LEAST LIKELY to reduce violent crime.

Lastly, comparisons to other countries are also strawman arguments. For example, while it is true that England does have strict gun control and low murders, they also have a much lower KNIFE murder rate, a much lower BLUNT OBJECT murder rate, and a much lower murder rate using HANDS AND FEET.

This points to a difference in society, not law. The truth is that England's lower crime rates preceded their gun laws.

The majority of firearms in this country do no harm save to drill holes in targets. Instead of concentrating phobically on guns, let's focus on those who misuse them. Blaming the gun for the actions of the murder is like blaming the car and the alcohol for the accident.

David Hunt, PE


Nice quiz. Especially question 2. Comparing the number of McDonald's restaurants against the number of "gun dealers" is apples versus oranges.

Your figure of 124,000 "gun dealers" almost certainly is a reference to the number of FFL holders, and a little checking would have told you that not every FFL holder runs a gun store. Most FFL holders run any gun- related business as a sideline for extra cash.

A more apt question would have compared the number of "gun dealers" against the number of people who make hamburgers at home.

I did appreciate your honesty with question 7. Although you surely intended it solely to convey how nasty cheap little guns cause crime and people don't, it is a poke in the eye to all the knee-jerks who believed that "assault weapons" are the root of all evil, and terrified Congress accordingly.

Andrew Caple
Bates City, MO


"Hot Guns" wasn't an expose' on a poorly managed company that produces an inferior product. We have several of those in the US. right now. What it was a cleverly disguised anti-gun message to millions of people. Chip, chip, chip away, and the rock of personal freedom will eventually fall. Frontline has taken another whack by exposing the "evils of 'cheap' firearms". If Seagrams had let a few thousand cases of scotch slip out the back door, and someone misused the product and killed someone with a car, Frontline wouldn't have had much interest. At least you are allowing the posting of reactions to the program, but the 'damage' has already been done. Even though the judge declares "objection sustained", the jury has heard your remarks.

Rob Abbott
Katy, Texas





Law abiding citizens who are legal gun owners know that the criminality of gun use is the area where legislation has failed the American public. Inadvertently the hype to effectively curb crime in this country has created a paranoia surrounding people who legally own and use firearms in sport and in the defense of their family.

Most gun owners would wholeheartedly agree that a national tracking system is necessary to ensure that guns don't end up in the wrong hands, and if they do that the path of such is determined and prosecuted. But the tracking system should not contain owners who legally have firearms but should contain those individuals who should not be allowed to purchase firearms instantly. Sportsmen and gun owners are even willing to finance this endeavor.

Because there is something inherently sinister about a government which wishes to catalog all gun owners. Policies such as these are what were instrumental in disarming the populous of Germany during the late 1930s.

Instead gun owners understand that the world's history can and will repeat itself and know that the right to keep and bear arms is not just a supposed "outdated" Constitutional protection used by the founding fathers to act as a standing army.

It is clear historically, that the right to bear arms protects us from our government and our neighbor, whichever would do us harm.

John Iakovides
Waterford, Michigan


I found the "Hot Guns" Frontline show stimulating in that it exposed the "murder" that CEOs or CFOs are getting away with when the interview segment showed close-up shots of that ACTOR who hadn't heard of the staggering #s of guns that had gotten away, followed by having heard of the "allegation" placed on his firm, Lorcin. It's a shame that the officer isn't handed a greater reward for his valiant effort to halt such crime. I felt that the angle taken by the journalist was brilliant by exposing the trade show aspect along with the ads that are placed by this firm in order to sell their version of "PROTECTION". I really wonder if he/they truly believe that they are in fact doing society a favor by blessing us with their "affordable" weapons accompanied by their "affordable" control of their stock. God help us.


Having read the discussions to date I'm struck by a number of things which color the debate surrounding firearms. First, the majority of the messages were what I would consider Pro-gun. They were for the largest part, well articulated, sane discussions of the issues surrounding crime and the misuse of firearms. There were many cited references to scholarly research that supports the pro-gun position, namely that firearms, labeled by the media and the political hacks as "junk", "cheap" "assault" or otherwise, are more beneficial to society than harmful. Second, not one of the letters succumbed to name calling or invoking so-called right wing extremist views. Third, the few pro-gun control letters were filled with primarily emotional hype of the dangers and deaths associated with firearms. As if for emotional reasons alone, a constitutionally guaranteed right, should be abandoned. It always strikes me as odd that those who envision a gun-free world always suggest that only the law enforcement and military should have firearms. Haven't they ever wondered how Hitler plundered Europe and achieved a genocide? Don't they realize that one of the primary reasons for the Second Amendment wasn't so much as a protection against bears as a protection against the likes of King George? The overall gun-control agenda is driven by appeals to emotion rather than any objective criteria. Senator Barbara Boxer's recently introduced legislation to ban so-called "junk" guns (like the Lorcin guns in your piece) is couched in a materialistic context of protecting citizens from themselves. That banning these cheap, "useless", "non-sporting" firearms will prevent the average person from being hurt. Yet the very same legislation allows the police to still purchase those same weapons. Where's the logic? Reality or hype? Based on sound research and constitutional law or on emotion?

Harvey Jay Fish, DC
Marietta, GA


Frontline did an excellent job in broadcasting "Hot Guns". It awakened me to a problem I didn't know existed. Hats off to agent McCreary (sp?). We need more responsible journalism, such as was demonstrated by Frontline.

J. K. Sullivan
NRA Life Member


Your show made a big point of the reputed unreliability of firearms from Lorcin, Davis, et. al. This is hardly news in the firearms community. Anyone knowledgeable of firearms knows these companies sell junk. My point being, if you're going to face an armed criminal wouldn't you prefer they be armed with unreliable junk (vs. the more powerful and reliable arms they'll start stealing when the junk guns dry up)?

I noted in my response to your web site that it contained a great deal of misinformation. When I find you making errors of fact in a subject in which I'm an expert, why should I trust your treatment of subjects of which I know little or nothing? You now have a serious credibility problem and I have to decide whether to continue supporting you with my membership dues.

Jerry Hollombe, M.A., CDP


We, literally, scream at one another about whether guns should be legal and/or controlled. It is not a rational discussion.

It is, however, a reflection of our societal value of civility. In a truely civil society guns could be owned or not owned because they would not be used the way they are. Rational debate could lead to their reasonable control or even possible banishment.

If there are more than two sides to the debate, they are drowned out by the extremes, each screaming at the other side from their emotional frame of reference.

While he seemed to be quietly rational, the owner of Lorcin was screaming: "It was somebody else's fault!" It seems we have another bad habit: consequences are always somebody else's responsibility.

I, too, have an emotional position and like many other people it is fear. However, my response to that fear is not to go out and buy a gun. I must patiently live with my fear and hope this national insanity passes. However, this story gives me no solace, optimism or even hope.

Thank you, Frontline.

William C. Wallace, Jr.
Coppell, TX


Comparing the practices of a reputable gun manufacturer such as Smith & Wesson to rogues such as Lorcin is important. As a gun owner, I understand the arguments on both sides of the issue of gun ownership, and the cheap cost or short life expectancy of the Lorcin product is not what appalls me, but rather the ridiculously lax security, the lame excuses and rationalizations given show that these manufacturers have no scruples.

These manufacturers are responsible for the carnage wrought with their guns which were never "made". For a few guns to disappear is one thing (this even happens to the F.B.I.) but to flood the criminal underworld with disposable handguns is unconscionable. Perhaps when some members of this manufacturing family is touched by violent crime they may see the errors of their ways. They are responsible for putting guns in the hands of criminals. They should be treated as criminals, certainly more so than those who simply possess recreational drugs and herbs.

B. D. Howard
Harrington, DE


This is a great example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Any credible journalistic organization would have been all over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for not investigating Lorcin the second that they found the first untraceable firearm. Instead you show them practically being hit over the head with these untraceable guns before they act. What conclusively proves this point is that the medical doctor was able to reach a conclusion that something was wrong without having the huge resources of the US Government available to him.

The BATF is clearly guilty of endangering the public with its' bureaucratic maneuvering in this case. So what do you do? Praise them for their incompetence. Previously a network news show revealed that they did not run background checks on firearm dealers applications. When you consider the Brady bill gives 5 days to run a check and here in Virginia it is instantaneously, this must be considered almost criminal.

Furthermore another recent news report stated that the BATF is afraid to combat the crime problem in the inner city where all help is desperately needed. Instead they prosecute most of their cases in rural areas where crime is minimal. All this indicates is that the agency has abandoned any pretense of being a law enforcement organization and is merely posturing for funds.

If this is any indication of the competence of your staff then Speaker Gingrich was right to call for a cut in funds to PBS. Normally I expect to see quality on PBS whether I agree with it or not. This piece was the work of simpleminded individuals being led around by nose. By producing this appalling propaganda for the BATF you share equal responsibility for deaths any injuries that result from their incompetence.

John Fusek
Newport News, VA


The statement by the Lorcin official that limiting the ability of poor people to purchase handguns for their "defense" (by banning the sale of cheap guns) is a disenfranchisement more severe than slavery is immeasurably obscene. His inference that the way to solve the problems of the inner city is to pump in more inexpensive handguns, and that not doing so is worse than the shameful legacy of slavery, should be an affront to every African American. He defies common sense, ducks responsibility for his product's lethality, and basely obfuscates his lust for profit by claiming a concern for the poor.

James Ransom


America will never fully live up to its promise of being the number one country in the world as long as we allow the continued production of cheap, poorly-made, low-powered, inaccurate, and unreliable guns. If America is going to continue leading the world we must pass immediate legislation to ban these weapons and make sure that our criminals are armed only with the best, most reliable, accurate, and high-powered firearms good old American know-how can produce.

On the subject of the security at Lorcin's factory, I agree, it is shameful. You reported that they had 14,000 guns stolen from them at a retail price of $150 (as reported elsewhere in your story). By my calculations Lorcin allowed $2.1 million of their merchandise to walk out their front door. I can not imagine that any company with such poor inventory control will stay in business for very long.

Jorge Amselle
Alexandria, VA


Responding to the excellent program on Lorcin guns. Thank you for the paradigm shift that I experienced when I heard this sentence on your program "there are more than 6,000 Lorcin guns unaccounted for on the streets."

No thank you shift after the concluding sentence of the program: ", there are more than 14,000 unaccounted for Lorcin guns." Was I the only viewer that was dumbfounded to learn that there was a SINGLE gun unaccounted for by it's manufacturer? People, there should be regulations, laws. Enforce them.

Brookline, MA


One is bemused by the repetitiousness of the viewpoints expressed in the responses to the Hot Guns program. "Guns don't kill people" vs. "Outlaw all handguns". Liberals vs. libertarians. How tiresome! We found a way during prohibition: Tax the goods! Put a revenue man on every gun factory loading dock! It can be made a civil offense not to pay the gun tax. Preponderance of evidence, in place of reasonable doubt, should put both the bootlegger and the manufacturer in jail if they don't keep track of what they make and sell and pay their taxes. Why can't the government make some money taxing the pesky things instead of wasting millions buying them?

Peter Clarke
Portland, OR


Generally I find programs on guns on PBS so biased toward the anti-gun side that I after the show, I run for the antacid medicine. Your program was a very well done unbiased piece of reporting. Keep up the great work like this!

I am a very strong supported of the 2nd Amendment and believe that law-abiding citizens have an unfettered right to lawfully use firearms of whatever type and number as they chose. The criminals have NO such rights.

The question of inexpensive guns is a hot topic. They afford self-defense to those who cannot afford the high-priced offerings from the major manufacturers. The point of the Lorcin only firing a few shots before jamming is interesting on 2 points.

One, in a defensive situation, a large number of shots are rarely needed. And two, I have purchased guns from major manufacturers for upwards of $600 and they didn't work much better!!!

Lorcin's conduct is appalling and unforgivable. While they have a right to make and sell their product through lawful means of distribution, their gross negligence and indifference is sickening. One wonders how with so much theft they can remain in business, unless these backdoor sales were, as one might not unreasonably infer, were corporate sanctioned. It that is the case, then ATF should pull their license. The ATF agent did a great job on the investigation. This is more in line what ATF should be doing rather than enforcing technical violations. Finally a good job ATF!


Am I the only person who was deeply offended by the suggestion that gun control laws are "more discriminatory that slavery" made by Jim Waldorf, President of Lorcin Engineering Co., Inc.?

Sacramento, CA

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