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Miami-Dade Mayors Rally Behind Plan To Control Gun Industry With 'Market Forces'

Josh Lopez via Flickr/Creative Commons

Firearms makers will have to make sure their products stay out of the wrong hands under a new gun control approach that's already taking root in Miami-Dade County.

It's a gun-control-by-market-forces program that unites the buying power of local governments against gun violence. Former journalist Casey Woods and her organization, Arms With Ethics, devised the program and persuaded 14 local governments to come aboard. They'll participate by being picky about where they buy their guns.

"Local law-enforcement departments spend more than a billion dollars a year on guns and ammunition every year," Woods says. " If local governments act collectively, they will have tremendous power to encourage the gun industry to adopt common-sense best practices that keep guns out of the hands of criminals."

To qualify as bidders on a police gun contract, gun makers would have to show how they keep guns out of the hands of ineligible or mentally ill owners or how they spot straw buyers. They'd have to show that, gunwise, they are good, corporate citizens. Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason says most of them will get the message.

"If you don't cooperate with us," says Cason, addresing a hypothetical gun manufacturer, "if you don’t help us keep guns out of the hands of criminals, we're just not going to spend our tax dollars with your company."

Closing off a handgun market to all but the most virtuous manufacturers requires no legislation and creates no obvious political targets, but it  may take a while to show results. According to Arms With Ethics, using market forces creates a long game for gun control.