Editor's Note: Today our friend and Student of the Gun Paul Markel has some insight and observations that are very relevant to the entire outdoor and shooting industry. With the government pushing for new gun controls, will one of the gun companies either: 1) be the first to sign-on to accept additional restrictions, 2) be the first company to reject the idea publicly, effectively "firing" states or federal groups who want to limit public access to "assault weapons"? If that happens, what happens to that company?
Searching for Judas: the dangers of being in the gun business today
Its official the Dept. of Homeland Security, under Janet Napolitano, has put forth a "Personal Defense Weapon Solicitation" to purchase 7000 rifles chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO. (source www.fbo.gov
) This is an official solicitation that they are accepting bids from manufactures/suppliers. While that story in and of itself is a bit incredulous given the current administration's stance against so-called "assault weapons", the big question on my mind is, will any U.S. firearms manufacturer dare to step up and bid on this contract?
This query is particularly poignant as orders for Stoner-based rifles are backordered months or even years.
We all should be aware the Information Super-Highway is most certainly a double-edged sword. Valuable information can be disseminated -immediately. Genuine news stories, not pap, are available to anyone with mobile device. No need to wait for a newspaper or magazine.
The biggest advantage the Internet provides to modern patriots is that it has broken the stranglehold that "old media" had on what was reported (or not) to the masses.
That's the good news.
The other edge of the Internet sword is the speed and snowball effect of rumors, lies, and disinformation. Like it or not, bad news and/or conspiracies fly faster from the keyboards of malcontents than any good or positive news ever will. People can't seem to hit the "forward" or "post" button fast enough when they think they have a juicy piece of gossip or a conspiracy.
We have a coalition on one side of "the gun argument" attempting to force disarmament down the throats of the people. They are organized and work from a definitive playbook.
In general, those devoted to the founding principles of the nation understand who the other side is. They are also extremely distrustful of any company or company representative who is perceive as being friendly or cooperative to the opposition.
Looking for Judas
Americans; primarily gun owners, shooters, constitutionalists, etc. are on the lookout for Judas. They are watching - looking - for someone to betray them. They already know the progressives and naked socialists want to rule. They are on guard for is any person or company supposedly on their side cutting a "deal with the Devil".
Gun people are looking for "price gougers" and others they perceive to be "taking advantage" of the current situation. But more than that, these folks are ever vigilant for the first company to compromise or cut a deal with the government that is trying to disarm them.
During the last month I've spoken to innumerable representatives of the firearms industry; marketing and PR reps, wholesalers, vice-presidents, small business owners, you name it.
When one PR rep told me that his client (don't ask and don't guess) was taking steps to accept the "inevitable" bans to come, I offered strong words of caution. The absolute worst public relations move possible for anyone in the firearms industry is to publicly capitulate or offer that they will "accept" whatever oppressive and punitive regulations are shoved down their throats.
I reminded my good friend that the American gun owner, shooter, patriot, has a LONG memory when it comes to a perceived betrayal. American shooters hold a grudge like nobody's business. They are also some of the most loyal customers a brand could have. There are multiple generations of Remington owners in America, or Winchester, or Colt, or S&W, take your pick.
Win an American over and you'll have him for a lifetime. Piss him off and it will be decades before he forgives you.
Sign a deal with the Devil and you'll never see him again - and he'll actively campaign against you.
Acceptance is Approval
The first truth that we must accept is that compromising or simply accepting ever more restrictive regulations is de facto approval of them. Accept the notion that some guns are good and some guns are bad and you are agreeing that controlling guns, still inanimate objects the last time I looked, will somehow control the behavior of the criminal or mentally deranged.
If you accept a compromise deals, you are admitting that the other side is correct. You're also saying that you are part of the problem - and accept responsibility. That we've come to a point in our nation's history where the law-abiding are being blamed for the action of the criminal is the height and definition of insanity.
For any hope of winning this battle, we cannot accept -or even entertain - the idea that the rights of a lawful citizen should be sacrificed for the unattainable and imagined gain of reduced criminality.
What should sicken every thinking American in this nation is the fact that the other side, the anti-gun crowd, never seems to concern themselves with the violent actions of the recidivist criminal.
We are supposed to believe that an inanimate object has the mystical power to control the human host and absent that object the human in question would revert to a saintly status.
Proactive vs. Reactive
I've been in this game and paying close attention long enough to realize that the time for sitting on the sidelines is long over. Members of the shooting sports and firearms community who assume that they can stick their finger in the wind and wait to see from where the wind is blowing will be trampled and forgotten.
Companies without a proactive strategy to reach out directly to their custom base are rolling the dice.
As the digital ink is drying on this electronic parchment, rumors are flying around the interwebs about this company or that hoarding ammunition, cutting side deals with the government, or deliberately restricting sales in an effort to be politically correct.
Our non-friends at Dick's Sporting Good solidified their moniker by pulling AR-15 rifles off their shelves and canceling customer orders for said guns. Personally, I hope others would keep Dick's parking lots empty and the aisles free of gun owners.
Ruger is to be commended for setting up their "Protect your Rights" section on their website and encouraging patriots to fight for their freedoms.
S&W also should be acknowledged for publicly pulling out of the Eastern Sportsman show after Reed Exhibitions banned all AR's and "tactical accessories".
The American gun owner isn't just on the lookout for a Judas, they're searching and hoping for friends and allies in this fight.
They need to be reassured that their favorite manufacturers and suppliers are not sitting by the sidelines waiting to see what happens. They are looking for companies who publicly stand with them. When all is said and done, Americans will remember those who betrayed them and those who stood by them.
They will hold that memory for a long time.
Paul Markel © 2013