A third of guns in the US are imported, and foreign firearms makers want a say on gun control

Not made in the USA.
Not made in the USA.
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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American gun manufacturers aren’t the only firms that want gun laws to remain lenient: The US imports about a third of its firearms, most of which are made by companies headquartered in Europe, according to data from Small Arms Analytics.

Austria, home of the 55-year-old gun maker Glock, accounts for many of the handguns brought into the US, at some 1.2 million in 2017. (Austria is also one of the rare European countries in which citizens are permitted to buy firearms for self defense.) Croatia, Italy, and Germany are also among the top five handgun exporters to America. Gun makers like Glock and the Swiss-German firm Sig Sauer have production facilities in the US as well.

Glock’s pistols are used by about 65% of US police departments, but the company also lobbies in favor of the American public’s access to firearms. Glock says it gave more than $100,000 to the National Rifle Association and its programs in 2016. Italy’s gun-making Beretta family is a big contributor to the gun lobby group.

Donald Trump’s election in 2016 appeared to be a major win for the NRA, which spent more than $30 million to boost his candidacy, according to OpenSecrets.org. The president shocked many in Washington when, following last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, he signaled support for reforms like higher age limits for buying assault weapons. However that position that seemed to wither after meeting with the NRA’s top lobbyist.

Brazil’s Taurus is another gun maker that owes much of its livelihood to US exports. Two-thirds of the company’s revenue came from firearms sales in the US in its latest quarter. The company’s fortunes show how changes in Washington can hit sales far afield. Gun advocates often load up on firearms and ammunition when stricter gun-control measures appear more likely. Thiago Piovesan, CFO at Taurus, said in a recent conference call that demand in the US dropped after Trump was elected president, which effectively lowered the risk of gun restrictions.