One might think that a cardinal safety rule for gun manufacturers is, "Don't sell loaded guns."
Well, apparently one might be mistaken.
According to an "Urgent Notice" for gun dealers that until today was posted on the web site of firearms distributor Sports South, Inc., and which recently made its way to the pro-gun corners of the Internet, Brooklyn (yes, that Brooklyn) rifle manufacturer Henry Repeating Arms may have shipped rifles for sale loaded with ammunition. The warning states:
"URGENT ATTENTION REQUIRED!!!!
We have been notified by Henry Repeating Arms that some rifles may have been shipped by them loaded with ammunition. If you have any Henry Rifles in inventory they must be inspected to make sure they do not contain ammunition. Also, please inspect any incoming Henry Rifles. This does not relate to a specific model or date. Each gun in your inventory must be checked for ammunition. Henry Repeating Arms apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause."
A quick phone call this morning confimed that the "Urgent Notice" is no hoax. And yet the web site of Henry Repeating Arms--which promotes some of its rifle lines as "youth" rifles for children--makes no mention of the possibly loaded guns being shipped.
One might also ask if maybe something more than a whispering campaign among members of the gun industry might be called for, especially for a company which takes pride in its weapons being used by children as young as five.
Unfortunately, because guns are one of only two consumer products not subject to product safety regulation by a federal agency (the other being tobacco) it's unclear what measures the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) can force the company to take to not only protect consumers from this current threat, but also ensure that it doesn't happen again.