The Glock executive testified that he would keep doing business with a gun dealer who had been indicted on a charge of violating firearms laws because ''this is still America'' and ''you're still innocent until proven guilty''.
The president of Sturm, Ruger & Co was not interested in knowing how often the police traced guns back to the company's distributors, saying it ''wouldn't show us anything''.
And an executive for Taurus International Manufacturing said his company made no attempt to learn if dealers who sell its products were involved in gun trafficking on the black market.
''I don't even know what a gun trafficker is,'' he said.
The world's firearms manufacturers have been largely silent in the debate over gun violence. But their voices emerge from thousands of pages of depositions in a series of liability lawsuits a decade ago, before Congress passed a law shielding them from such suits in 2005, and the only time many of them were forced to answer such questions.
Much of the testimony was marked confidential, and transcripts were packed away in archives at law firms and courthouses.
But a review of the documents, obtained by The New York Times, shows the industry's leaders arguing, often with detachment and defiance, that their companies bear little responsibility, beyond what the law requires, for monitoring the distributors and dealers who sell their guns to the public.
The executives claimed not to know if their guns had ever been used in a crime. They eschewed voluntary measures to lessen the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. And they denied that common danger signs - such as a single person buying many guns at once or numerous ''crime guns'' that are traced to the same dealer - necessarily meant anything at all.
Charles Brown's company, MKS Supply, is the sole distributor of an inexpensive brand of gun that frequently turned up in criminal investigations. He said he never examined the trace requests that MKS received from federal agents to learn which of his dealers sold the most crime guns.
This lack of interest was echoed by Charles Guevremont, the president of the gun manufacturer Browning, who testified that his company would have no reason to review the practices of a dealer who was the subject of numerous trace requests. ''That's not for us to enforce the law,'' he said.
A discordant note was sounded by one executive - Ugo Gussalli Beretta, a scion of the family of Italian firearms makers. His testimony indicated that he did not understand how easy it was to buy multiple guns in the US, compared with his home country. Questioned by an attorney for the Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, he said he believed - incorrectly - that Beretta USA had a policy requiring its dealers to first determine if there was ''a legitimate need'' for someone to buy so many guns.
Asked why he thought that, Beretta replied: ''Common sense.''
Because the testimony came in the context of high-stakes litigation, it is difficult to tell how much of it reflected a studied attempt to avoid liability or a fundamentally laissez-faire attitude towards the firearms trade.
Even so, many of those who testified are still with the same companies, and the issues they were asked about have not gone away. After the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December and other recent high-profile shootings, the gun industry's response - that existing laws should be better enforced rather than new restrictions imposed - largely mirrors its stance from a decade ago.
Because of lobbying by gun-rights groups, there are more restrictions on the government's use of trace data than when the lawsuits began. And the industry continues to oppose limits on multiple gun sales to a single buyer, a major theme of the lawsuits. It is in court fighting a new requirement that dealers report such rifle sales under certain circumstances.
More than 30 cities, counties or states filed suit against gun makers, beginning in the late 1990s. The theory behind the litigation - that the industry was negligent, or wilfully blind, in its sales practices - was similar to the one employed in the successful suits against tobacco companies.
Jonathan Lowy, the legal director for the Brady Centre, which was involved in most of the suits, said firearms makers ''should have a code of basic, reasonable business practices that dealers and distributors who sell their guns are required to follow''.
The manufacturers argued that the lawsuits were a frivolous abuse of the courts to grind them down financially. They also pointed to voluntary measures, such as the industry trade association's distribution of safety locks to gun owners, as evidence of their concern about reducing accidents.
When asked for comment, most gun makers did not respond or declined. But Timothy Bumann, a lawyer for Taurus International, reiterated some of the arguments made by gun executives in their depositions, saying Taurus is not a law enforcement agency and has no legal duty to do more to police its dealers and distributors.
The lawsuits were bolstered, however, by testimony from several former industry insiders. The most prominent was Robert Ricker, a former lawyer for the National Rifle Association and executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, the main gun industry trade association before it was disbanded.
''Leaders in the industry have consistently resisted taking constructive voluntary action to prevent firearms from ending up in the illegal gun market and have sought to silence others within the industry who have advocated reform,'' Ricker wrote in a 2003 affidavit on behalf of the city of San Diego.
Ricker detailed the backlash from the NRA and trade groups against anyone who pressed for changes to industry practices. Because of his calls for reform, Ricker, who died in 2009, said he was forced to resign as the head of the trade group.
As quickly as the suits were filed, they began to run aground. Most were dismissed by judges or withdrawn. In some states, legislatures passed their own laws shielding gun makers from liability, leading to dismissals, and most of the suits that survived were eventually stymied by the federal immunity legislation passed in 2005.
Only one major company, Smith & Wesson, the nation's largest handgun manufacturer, broke ranks. In 2000, it agreed to settle the litigation, and it adopted far-reaching changes, including promising to design a handgun that could not be operated by children and forbidding its dealers and distributors from selling at gun shows unless background checks were conducted on all sales.
Smith & Wesson's sales quickly plummeted amid an industry backlash.
Documents produced through the discovery process in the municipal suits show other gun makers seeking to isolate the company. A letter from Dwight Van Brunt, an executive at gun maker Kimber America, to officials at a firearms industry trade group urged them to confer with the NRA and ''boycott Smith now and forever. Run them out of the country. You guys need to make sure that no one else is going to join the surrender,'' he wrote.
New York Times