The gun industry, which is made up of large manufacturers like Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, and Beretta; small bespoke manufacturers like Wilson Combat and Magpul; as well as internet commerce businesses like Cheaper Than Dirt and MidwayUSA are each staking out their positions in the highly polarized battle that encompasses the gun violence debate and associated legislation. The primary tactics of the manufacturers are three-pronged. First, they are flooding their lobbyists at the NRA with money. Then, they announce variations of boycott, either threatening to move their manufacturing out of states that pass laws or threatening police, states and government agencies that, should gun regulations be applied, they will not sell firearms or accessories to cops and police agencies “that citizens can’t buy”. In other words, if a state votes to limit magazine capacity to 7 [such as New York State], none of the boycotting manufacturers would sell magazines to cops, federal agents or any other law enforcement magazines that have higher capacity.
I would point out that many of them, while “standing on principle” with their boycott are also raising their prices and price gouging current customers under the cover of current panic buying by gun enthusiasts but that would just be a cheap shot. Principles are, apparently a moving target.
Magpul, the AR-15 magazine and accessory company in Colorado was the first, most vocal protester in support of their vested economic interests. Magpul declared, in no uncertain terms that, should Colorado pass HB 1224, which limited magazine capacity they would move out of Colorado and take their 300 jobs with them.
To date the measure, HB 1224 has passed the Colorado House and it is scheduled for March 4th in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The threat of boycott remains.
Beretta upped the ante by threatening to leave Maryland should that state’s legislature pass an assault weapons ban and other gun regulations. Beretta, current supplier of the sidearm for the US Military is the US arm of Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, the oldest firearms manufacturer in the world, in business since 1526. BerettaUSA threatened to move manufacturing away from Maryland should the bill pass. It passed the Senate earlier this week and is in House committee today. Maryland’s governor supports the measure.
The second element of the boycott is to refuse to sell to cops, to police agencies or any law enforcement firearms which can’t be bought by “civilians”. This was begun with folks like Cheaper Than Dirt and MidwayUSA, large internet gun shops that are intrinsically tied to the NRA with their extensive advertising in print, broadcast and internet media.
These retailers are joined by dozens of small, bespoke manufacturers and accessory dealers like Wilson Combat and Barrett who have said they will either 1) move out of states which pass laws and/or 2) will not sell to anyone, law enforcement included items that are not available to everyone. Their strength, however is diminished because the large manufacturers, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig Sauer are NOT part of the boycotts. And as the heavyweights in the discussion, if they decide to continue to sell to their primary customers…the boycott will have little or no effect.
What does this all mean? Right now the two most vocal, largest manufacturers who have decided to boycott are awaiting their respective state legislatures to finalize votes on gun bans or magazine bans. If they pass, as expected the manufacturers have to decide to either commit to their rhetoric or figure out a way to rationalize their business decisions should they stay. The rest of the small businesses…well, they will have little impact. For each of them there are multiple alternatives in the marketplace who have not restricted purchases for law enforcement.
It also means that the decisions regarding regulations that are intended to impact gun violence will be played out in both legislative houses across the country as well as in the free market with businesses and consumers alike able to “put their money where their mouth is”. Some companies, like Barrett would likely fold if they maintain and extend their boycott to the federal government should the federal Assault Weapons Ban pass…the main customers of their $10,000, 50 caliber sniper rifle are government…and that is how the free market works.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.