The Austrian entrepreneur and weapons manufacturer Gaston Glock is dead. Glock, who developed one of the best-selling handguns in the world, died on Wednesday at the age of 94, according to the Austrian news agency APA.
Police and military forces around the world relied on the Austrian’s weapons that bore his name. Its rise began in the 1980s, when the Austrian army was looking for a new, innovative weapon. Until then, the Glock company had manufactured military knives and consumer products such as curtain rods. But he assembled a team of weapons experts and developed the “Glock 17,” a lightweight semi-automatic weapon made mostly of plastic.
The design, considered revolutionary at the time – with a frame made of a high-strength nylon-based polymer and only the slide made of metal – beat out designs from several other companies and secured his startup the contract.
Clever marketing also contributed to the weapon manufacturer’s success. Since its early days in the 1980s, the company has tried to get its pistols featured in Hollywood films. To do this, it wooed the outfitters who rent and service weapons for the various productions with discounts and preferential treatment. Also because “Glock” can easily be found in rhymes, hip-hop and rap fueled the hype about the weapons in the early 1990s, which are mentioned in numerous song lyrics. This is what rising superstar Tupac Shakur sings on his debut album: “I chose droppin’ the Cop, I got me a Glock / and a Glock for the niggas on my block.”
Gun opponents accused Glock of having given powerful firearms a boost, especially in the USA. Glock itself rarely responded to such criticism, shunned public debate and, in 2000, refused to join other gun manufacturers in signing a voluntary gun control agreement with the US government.
They reported in 2019 Southgerman newspaper and the Spiegel in connection with the Ibiza video about Gaston Glock. The then Austrian FPÖ Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache bragged in the video about alleged major donors to his party. There are “a few very wealthy people who pay between 500,000 and one and a half to two million.” The donors were “idealists” and wanted “tax cuts… Gaston Glock as an example.” Glock, who in Austria was said to be particularly close to the FPÖ and the late right-wing populist Jörg Haider, then announced: There had been “neither discussions with the FPÖ nor with other parties about donations or other payments.”
At age 70, he survived an attack in July 1999 when an investment broker managing his assets hired a former wrestler to attack him with a rubber mallet. In 2011, Gaston Glock and his wife Helga divorced after 49 years of marriage, followed by a lengthy legal battle over maintenance payments. Soon afterwards he married his second wife Kathrin, who is more than 50 years younger than him. He leaves behind his wife, a daughter and two sons.
The entrepreneur recently lived in seclusion. “Gaston Glock strategically aligned the Glock Group throughout his life and prepared it for the future. His life’s work will be continued in his spirit,” says a statement on his company’s homepage.