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IRVINE : UCI Medical Students Take More Shots at Gun Maker

March 01, 1995|RUSS LOAR

About 23 UC Irvine medical students demonstrated outside a former location of handgun manufacturer Bryco Arms to celebrate the firm's departure from the city.

The demonstrators wore white lab coats and carried placards with such slogans as "Saturday Night Specials Are Natural Born Killers."

"It's important that this company recognizes that they cannot hide," said medical student Neal Handly, adding that the students are planning a Memorial Day demonstration at the company's Costa Mesa headquarters.

But a spokesman for the business ridiculed the group's "hippie-style sit-ins," saying the location was a storage facility that has been empty for six months. The Irvine facility was the scene of a demonstration in September by medical students organized by the Southern California chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"We had quite a laugh because the joke was on them. They were picketing a vacant building," said Bruce Jennings, a spokesman for the company, which is owned by the Jennings family.

Jennings said the Irvine property on Cowan Street has been owned since about 1988 by Bryco, which is now trying to sell or lease the property. He said operations at Bryco's Costa Mesa business have been expanded.

Representatives of Physicians for Social Responsibility say that during 1993 Bryco produced 204,000 inexpensive handguns, which they describe as weapons of choice for criminals.

But Bryco spokesman Jennings said the protesters are misinformed.

"Our products are not used proportionately for crime more than any other firearms in the marketplace," Jennings said. "We're a federally licensed business, working within the moral framework of our country."

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