As a revolver guy, this conversation happens a lot. It usually goes like this:
Dude 1: I really like S&W revolvers, but I hate that stupid IL. It’s pointless and makes the guns look dumb.
Dude 2: Yeah, I hate the IL. Is there anyone who likes it?
The answer of course, is no. No one likes the internal lock. But S&W, who are no longer owned by the company that insisted on the damn thing in the first place, still puts it on their guns. But! Not all their guns. Some guns, like my excellent 640 Pro Series are issued sans lock. So we know that they can make guns without it, and it can’t be that expensive to reprogram the CNC machines making wheelgats, and any expense would likely be wiped out by the deluge of S&W fans whipping out their credit cards to buy no-lock K-frames.
Why then does the lock persist? It’s actually a pretty simple equation, which I’ll detail here: Lawyers + publicly traded company = the lock stays. Regardless of how it would play out in terms of sales, there’s basically no way to convince a publicly traded company that walking back a “safety feature” would play well on the NASDAQ. Even though it would actually increase sales, publicly traded companies like S&W tend to be risk-adverse, and for good reason. They have a duty to deliver returns to their shareholders, which is harder to do when CNN is running hit pieces on “gun manufacturer makes guns less safe.”
Make no mistake, that’s exactly what would happen. If tomorrow morning, S&W said “screw it, ditch the lock” by that evening you’d have Anderson Cooper on CNN talking about how “A major American gun manufacturer has decided today to remove a critical safety feature from their popular line of revolvers, making it easier for children to shoot themselves on accident.” Then the reputable gunblogs would spend the next week writing thoughtful articles about how the IL doesn’t make anyone safer, but provides a crutch for people unwilling to follow the 4 Rules, and then the lunatic fringe gunblogs would write articles about how they’ll still never buy S&W because of the Clinton thing, and the whole exercise would be just exhausting and stupid.
Bottom line, the lock stays. If we lived in a different political climate, I’d probably fight harder to get rid of the IL, but considering the world in which we live, the lock staying is probably in all of our best interest. Because I don’t really want to hear Chris Matthews interview Michael Moore about how the gun lobby wants children to die, do you?