“The girl, the guns, the money and liquor—and at the center of it all was this Austrian engineer none of us knew very well.” Former NRA lawyer Robert Ricker should read Glock, The Rise of America’s Gun, in which his quote appears. Ricker won’t be any wiser about Gaston Glock’s psychological motivations, but he’ll become intimately familiar with the Austrian engineer’s dirty laundry. Glock’s bad behavior, and the extra-legal shenanigans of those around him, could fill a washing line from Deustch-Wagram, Austria to Smyrna, Georgia . . .
Bribery, corruption, extortion, prostitution, money laundering, tax evasion, perjury, adultery, sexual harassment—you name it, Glock’s got it. Gaston Glock’s progress from a shed-based car radiator manufacturer with a questionable past to an international man of mystery banking billions on the back of a plastic pistol is a story worthy of Kitty Kelly.
Too bad she didn’t write it. Paul M. Barrett’s book doesn’t break out the eye-opening Glock gossip until Chapter 14 “My Way.” To get to the good stuff a conscientious reader must first negotiate a rambling if comprehensive narrative about America’s recent firearms history and Glock’s meteoric progress within it.
After wandering in the polymer pistol wilderness, the personal revelations arrive much like the rubber hammer wielded by 67-year-old former professional wrestler and French Foreign Legionnaire Jacques Pecheur upside Gaston’s head during a failed assassination attack orchestrated by his chief tax avoidance specialist.
In this excerpt, an embezzling exec’s decided he’s had enough of his employer’s imperious ways. Paul F. Jannuzzo, a hard-drinking Glock marketing maven who bribed thousands of law enforcement officials into buying tens of thousands of guns (while subsidizing an Atlanta strip club), drops by Gaston’s pad with an armful of damning corporate files.
At this point, Glock stood up and left the room. Remaining with [Paul F.] Jannuzzo in the kitchen was Peter Manown, the German-speaking American lawyer who handled Glock’s personal business in the United States. The next thing Jannuzzo and Manown heard was the racking of the slide of a semiautomatic handgun. Gaston Glock had loaded a round into the chamber.
“Paul, did you hear that?” asked a rattled Manown.
Jannuzzo didn’t seem scared. He patted his ankle, allowing Manown to see that had a holster there and a pistol of his own. It might have been a scene out of a bad thriller, if not for the fact that the guns and the clashing egos were real.
Gaston Glock returned to the table with a black plastic pistol protruding under his belt. “I didn’t know if we were going to have a shootout at the O.K. Corral, or what,” Manown said later.
There was more shouting and some finger-pointing, but in the end, neither man pulled his gun. Jannuzzo scooped up his files and left, bellowing at Glock: “You’re history!”
TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia will seize on the crucial question in this sad saga: why didn’t Gaston carry a Glock with a round in the chamber? They’ll be interested to learn that Glock was unarmed during the aforementioned assassination attempt.
And? I’m sure Glock-owning “true believers” will prove impervious to criticism of the master’s gun handling or salacious gossip about his private life; they have an unshakeable, unmistakable belief in Gaston’s genius and the “perfection” of his brainchild.
The company’s unabashed ambition—including [allegedly] employing gun guru Massad Ayoob as a consultant to quell his public distaste for their “light” trigger—is besides the point. Glock guys and gals are hypnotized by the “truth” of the company owner’s repeated assertion that “our system functions without a flaw.”
Barrett’s book is unlikely to get Glockistas to reassess their faith—or please them on other levels. While Glock isn’t bad on the technical side of the story and makes the obvious connection between the gunmaker’s U.S. success and American anti-gun hysteria, the Bloomberg writer (yes, he works for America’s top gun grabber) goes too far. He can’t resist injecting his “moderate” views on gun control into the text.
Here, Barrett upbraids Glock for not selling out to the Clinton administration in 2000:
Lost in the process was a unique opportunity for an industry, or at least some industry leaders, to agree to police their conduct more vigorously.
As in limiting sales to one gun at a time, keeping records of buyers, increase trigger pull resistance and limiting magazines to ten rounds. If the author wants Glock enthusiasts to buy his book, supporting gun control is not the way to go about it. There’s no mistaking Barrett’s position. Clock this from his final chapter “The Impact of the Austrian Pistol”:
The scale of the bloodshed in Tuscon, like that at Virginia Tech and Luby’s, presents the strongest possible evidence that a restriction on magazine size makes sense. Such a limit would not stop a Loughner or Cho from attacking, but it could reduce the number of victims. Only six states—California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York—have their own limits on large magazines. A national ten-round cap seems like a logical compromise that lawful gun owners could easily tolerate.
Barrett also throws his weight behind passing laws to address boss Bloomberg’s pet peeve: “closing the gun show loophole” (mandating FBI background checks for private sales) and “ballistic fingerprinting” (creating a system to trace spent cartridges to a particular gun).
I don’t want to tackle the folly of those propositions here. Suffice it to say, Barrett’s unnecessary gun control pronouncements threaten to put him in Smith & Wesson’s post-Clinton capitulation shoes. There aren’t a whole lot of firearms enthusiasts who’d be comfortable supporting a writer who supports their political enemies.
I don’t think they’d be missing much. While authoritative, Glock doesn’t address Glock’s success in America in a coherent, engaging narrative. And by that I mean the gun. As for the gun’s inventor, Glock offers a tantalizing glimpse of the man behind the curtain. But the enigmatic Austrian remains a curious character, a wildly successful gunmaker who fully deserves a more probing biography.
[Glock, The Rise of America’s Gun will be available in January 2012]