Industry Agitations

Jan 13, 2021

The Hartford Courant is reporting that a deal is imminent for “100 percent of the equity” in Colt Holding Co., owner of the gun company the Courant describes as “an American legend and Connecticut fixture for 175 years”.

Ceska azurejvka Group, SE (better known as CZ) says it has reached an agreement on the “outline” of a deal with the West Hartford, Connecticut company. In fact, the deal has already been announced in more than one foreign news service. While the Czech group seems confident in the likelihood of a deal, the two companies have apparently agreed to allow review and due diligence to continue through the end of the month.

Meanwhile, the shutdown by GoDaddy has roiled the internet since the gun forum received notice it was summarily being shut down. We have been told that while the move was sudden, it wasn’t exactly unexpected.

In fact, wheels were already in motion to find another hosting location when the 24-hour notice was received. Regardless, the sudden- and total-shutdown by GoDaddy caused no small amount of consternation before a new “First Amendment friendly” host was located.

Today, while conversations in the industry have re-focused on political changes in Washington, there’s equal concern regarding the apparent ease at which big tech companies (Amazon/AWS, Google, Apple, Twitter and Facebook) have decided to decided what constitutes “acceptable” free speech.

“If you don’t toe their party line,” said one CEO, “there’s never been any doubt that they could make life inconvenient for you if they chose. What’s worrisome today is the fact they’re acting without any hesitation, and there’s virtually no recourse. There’s certainly no immediate course of action.”

Many people today consider these tech giants to be public utilities.

That’s wrong-headed. They aren’t public utilities.

The local, state and federal regulations under which they operate aren’t designed to protect the public.

Few (if any) of us have really read their Terms of Service for internet providers, phone companies or computers before clicking on the contract box that says (usually twice to eliminate any doubt) “I have read and agree to the Terms of Service.”

If we had, we’d be considerably slower to agree. They are one-way agreements.

You agree to their rules. If you don’t follow their rules, they will deny you their service.

And as learned yesterday, being turned off doesn’t earn an explanation. They simply shut you down.

And as Parler discovered last week, they don’t much care how loudly you complain- or to whom.

After being booted from Amazon’s AWS service, Parler was also summarily booted from both the Apple and Google Play stores, essentially closing down the Twitter alternative.

To the companies who chose to exercise what was essentially the death penalty, it was their contribution to stifling an organization they felt didn’t sufficiently moderate “extreme” content.

To Parler CEO John Matze, it was something entirely different: a flagrant attempt to shut down the “closest thing to competition Facebook or Twitter has seen in many years.”

He also says he believes Apple, Google and Amazon “worked together” to make certain they didn’t have any competition.

Parler’s not back online- yet, but it appears to have turned to the one internet solutions provider that has become home to others, including Gab and

That provider, Epik, says there’s no “agreement” in place with Parler, only a service agreement. That’s not unusual with any of the companies, including GoDaddy.

Epik, however, defended the idea that Parler - and by extension other companies like suddenly facing these shutdowns- have been unfairly targeted:

“it is clear there is an artificial standard that many now want to apply. The staggering size of Twitter and Facebook alone, have made real change or accountability almost impossible, as the political interests and objectives of their own executives end up creating an undeniable double standard for both policing and enforcement.”

Epik statement

Parler has filed suit against Amazon for antitrust violations, and is asking a judge require Amazon to reinstate their service as litigation works through the court system.

Is all this drama only a hint of things to come?

There’s no definitive answer, but preparations are underway industry-wide for a “new reality.”

If the first two weeks of January are any indication, doesn’t look to be smooth sailing ahead for the industry. This “new reality” means refocusing on potential political problems as a Biden administration will -eventually- turn its attention toward increasing regulations on law-abiding gun owners.

Right now, they’re distracted by a myriad of other, more pressing issues.

That’s giving the industry some much-needed time to try and focus on an area that wasn’t a prime concern under the outgoing administration.

Organizations ranging from conservation groups to the National Shooting Sports Foundation are working to retool plans, realign staffing and get ready for some sobering “new realities”.

As the work progresses, we’ll keep you posted.

— Jim Shepherd