Last week one of the cable channels was showing a film with Johnny Depp called Blow, the mostly true story of a very successful drug dealer who made millions of dollars selling cocaine. The story swims in images of America’s drug-indulgent 1970s and 80s, including shots of Depp and his partners wandering through rooms filled with boxes of cash… so much cash that there were problems accurately counting all of it.
Because Blow borrows most of its mood and format from Martin Scorsese’s superior Goodfellas, there’s a kind of playful zeal to all the illegal activity. So the film evinces the now standardized “happy drugs” view of coke, with virtually no scenes featuring users overdosing or alienating their loved ones or losing their jobs, etc. Good times, baby.
It occurred to me that a similar ‘take’ might someday be used in telling the story of Bryco Arms, a Costa Mesa gun manufacturer. Like Blow, the Bryco story (Nuisance might be a good title) will show a public with so much appetite for the goods that the dealers could barely keep up with demand. And that when things got sticky, they simply moved their operations elsewhere.
Bryco Arms was one of the last companies in a group of Southern California gun makers referred to as “the ring of fire.” That group manufactured millions of the inexpensive handguns favored by criminals. Let me risk boring you with this one detail: It isn’t that just that they made guns; they made cheap guns. They made guns affordable to those who didn’t have the money for better quality guns. Not yet, anyhow.
As detailed in this column previously, seven year-old Brandon Maxfield was accidentally shot in 1994 by a Bryco gun that was allegedly defective. The incident left him a quadriplegic. Maxfield gathered donations and attempted to purchase Bryco with the sole intent of destroying the company so that what happened to him might never happen again, at least as the result of Bryco’s fine products. But Bryco, which was in bankruptcy, went to a higher bidder: Paul Jimenez, Bryco’s ex-plant manager. Jimenez apparently had a dream of owning the business and keeping Bryco’s goods out on the streets.
So here’s your “Keepin’ It Real With Guns” News Update: The LA Times reports that Bryco, now Jimenez Arms (“I have a dream…”), is moving to Nevada, where laws such as the ones that had ordered Bryco to stop manufacturing in California are not a nuisance.
It gets prettier. The Times report says that documents show Jimenez got the money for his winning bid for Bryco from Shining Star Investments, a Texas (surprise!) company that has been marketing the Bryco/Jimenez Arms product line nationwide. Just like with cocaine, the dealers here really aren’t that emotional about the product itself and what it does to human lives. What they are focused on is the continuing demand and the money it produces.
What drove Jimenez Arms out of California was the ban of its 9-millimeter pistol, which failed safety tests at three state-certified labs. At one lab, the gun failed at a rate 15 times higher than what is allowed under guidelines. It’s the Ford Pinto of handguns.
The Nevada attorney general’s office has promised to give Jimenez Arms “a hard look” as it begins setting up shop there, but they begin their statement on the matter with the words “Nevada has a pro-business climate.”
This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz
1) Life slowed down in Malibu when
(a) a large boulder blocked the PCH.
(b) cell phones in rain caused electroshock.
(c) kids rejected money.
2) Up to $15 million may be spent by studios to
(a) improve public schools.
(b) buy an Oscar for a film.
(c) keep Joan Rivers locked in a van.
3) L.A. is closing in on an all-time record
(a) for sale of hair care products.
(b) for rainfall amount.
(c) for most everything.
1) (a) “Honking your horn won’t work…”
2) (b) “Honking your horn might work…”
3) (b) “There’s water in my horn…”