Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Question of Fun Art.8

Gaston Glock

Gaston Glock - is the founder of Glock GmbH, the makers of handguns recommended by 90% of the US police force. The standard 18 round,24-ounce, 500 $ gun became so popular with the US police authorities, that when it came on the market in 1985 - it was snapped up by the dozens. The police forces were already combating growing terrorism, violence and petty robberies during that time and were eager to keep pace with the better-equipped, well-armed criminals. It's main competitor, the heavier and more complex .45 caliber Smith & Wesson was more expensive, and bulkier. Also since most of the mere 34 parts (except the carbon steel barrel) were made of a polymer, the gun had lesser recoil and was therefore much easier to handle. It soon became extremely popular with major police forces across he States including NYPD, US Special Forces, The FBI and other major anti-terrorist squads all around the world.

However, this incredible success story had its twists and turns. The story begins in Glock's country of birth - Austria. He was engaged in producing plastic grenade shells and also manufacturing plastic curtain-rod rings. He happened to overhear a certain comment by a few officers in the Austrian army about the inadequacy of their guns. Immediately Glock offered to make them one. They laughed away at him, but that made him even more determined to complete his mission. He got down to work in his basement every night and built the gun from scratch. Probably his greatest advantage was his total ignorance about gun making and his relative knowledge of polymer science. He built one of the simplest, lightest semi-automatics around. A mere 34 part Glock became so popular, than in 1983 he received an order for 25,000 guns. A man so determined, that he tested his prototypes with his left hand so that if his gun blew up - he could still draw blueprints with his right hand - was finally on the road to success. Two years later, eager to expand and attracted by nearby Luxembourg as a tax haven Glock met a certain Charles Ewert by chance - a man who was to change his life - and almost end it. Ewert, claiming he had international contacts se up many phony companies to which a large part of Glock's earnings were diverted. He opened various offices in Hong Kong and most importantly was responsible for Glock Inc. Glock's US subsidiary - it's most important company. Glock once said to his family that if anything happened to him they should go to Ewert.

Then one day Glock received a phone call from an employee Ewert had fired - telling him that there was something fishy about the way Ewert was operating. Glock immediately dismissed the idea as a clear case of a disgruntled employee's ire against his former employer. However just to put his mind to rest, he called a meeting with Ewert in Luxembourg. That's when - at Ewert's suggestion he stopped to have a look at a car parked near the road. A masked man leaped from behind and struck him with a rubber hammer. Ewert ran away from the scene. Glock struggling for his life managed to summon all his energy and hit back at the man - who later collapsed in a heap at the powerful man's blow. It was later discovered that the man was a French relation of Ewert. Ewert was later charged with attempted murder, and allegations of large misappropriation of funds and fraud. His case is still in the courts in Luxembourg but if found guilty he could face upto 30 years imprisonment.

They say 'You don't mess with Gaston Glock'. Now in his 70s Glock GmbH is still very much a one-man company. His son says that at the company he is his 'father's slave'. He is also known to be extremely private, one of his favourite pastimes being flying his Cessna wherever he travels. He had fought vehemently against the gun protection act that Clinton proposed, as it would have adversely affected his business. He has also fought against the frequent use of 'Glock' by rappers as he fears it will become a generic term for handguns.

Certainly having a violent and indeed colourful story a lot of Gaston Glock's past is shrouded in mystery. His incredible fight for his life on that fateful day in Luxembourg, his hugely public spat with Charles Ewert and the countless court lawsuits by him and indeed against him stand testimony to that. But one thing seems sure - until this man is at the helm, Glock GmbH will always be at the top of the list when it comes to choosing a handgun.

Some links

Glock webite
Glock FAQ
Frank Boosman's Blog

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