'For more than a year, we and fellow religious leaders across the nation have worked to persuade President Obama to use what we believe is the most powerful tool government has in this area: its purchasing power. The federal government is the nation’s top gun buyer. It purchases more than a quarter of the guns and ammunition sold legally in the United States. State and local law enforcement agencies also purchase a large share. Major gun manufacturers depend on these taxpayer-funded purchases. For the government to keep buying guns from these companies — purchases meant to ensure public safety — without making demands for change is to squander its leverage.'
'Some of the leading brands of handguns purchased by the government — are also leading brands used in crimes. For example: When Smith & Wessons turn up frequently in the hands of criminals, shouldn’t questions be asked when Smith & Wesson seeks a contract with the federal government?'
' They could distribute their guns exclusively through dealers that sell guns responsibly, and end their relationships with the small percentage of bad-apple dealers that sell a disproportionate number of the guns used in crimes. They could produce “smart guns” that can be fired only by authorized users, and that therefore are far less likely to be used in accidental or intentional shootings. These measures, over time, would prevent many thousands of deaths. But companies will innovate in these areas only if their major customers ask them to. The president can push companies to compete in the area of safer guns and more responsible distribution. Here’s how to start.