There are many similarities between the current wave of gun control insanity and the proposals by President Bill Clinton in the early '90s. However, there is one fortunate difference in the latest battle: During the Clinton era, many firearm companies chose to remain silent, or even worse, forged a compromise with the administration.
But today's manufacturers are standing up for the Second Amendment. They're applying political pressure to those who oppose gun rights, often in bold and creative ways. Here are just a few examples of how manufacturers of firearms and firearm accessories are fighting for your constitutional liberties.
Refusing Sales to Government Agencies in Gun-Ban States
When California passed the .50 Caliber BMG Regulation Act of 2004, banning .50-caliber rifles, Barrett Rifles made a major statement: It would no longer sell rifles to California state agencies, including law enforcement. Barrett President Ronnie Barrettâ - a law-enforcement veteran - was lauded as a patriot by the pro-gun community, and why not? He sacrificed a great deal of profit in the name of standing up for what's right.
Apparently he still holds those principles. When the New York state Senate passed perhaps the strictest statewide gun-control law ever, Barrett released a statement declaring that it would no longer sell firearms to New York government agencies or any legislators who voted for the law.
Other companies have taken notice of the weight such action carries and have made similar moves. The following companies have announced they will restrict sales to state and local governments that impose gun controls on their citizens:
- Olympic Arms, one of the first companies to take such action in a powerful statement that declared, "If the leaders of the State of New York are willing to limit the right of the free and law-abiding citizens of New York to arm themselves as they see fit under the Rights enumerate to all citizens of the United State through the Second Amendment, we feel as though the legislators and government entities within the State of New York should have to abide by the same restrictions.
"This action has caused a division of the people into classes: Those the government deems valuable enough to protect with modern firearms, and those whose lives have been deemed as having less value, and whom the government has decided do not deserve the right to protect themselves with the same firearms. Olympic Arms will not support such behavior or policy against any citizen of this great nation."
- LaRue Tactical, whose snarky statement noted, "Effective today, in an effort to see that no legal mistakes are made by LaRue Tactical and/or its employees, we will apply all current State and Local Laws (as applied to civilians) to state and local law enforcement / government agencies. In other words, LaRue Tactical will limit all sales to what law-abiding citizens residing in their districts can purchase or possess."
- Cheaper Than Dirt, whose statement read in part, "It has been and will continue to be Cheaper Than Dirt's policy to not to sell prohibited items to government agencies and/or agents in states, counties, cities, and municipalities that have enacted restrictive gun control laws against their citizens. We support and encourage other companies that share in this policy."
- York Arms, whose statement included the brief-but-powerful sentence, "For LE/Govt customers in New York: Your orders have been cancelled [sic]."
- Rounding out this brief list of examples are Alex Arms, OFA Tactical, Top Gun Supply, Extreme Firepower Inc. and Templar Custom.
Such actions energize the civilian consumer base and have made national headlines, but do they actually carry the intended weight? Will such a strategy cause politicians to reconsider their actions? Some, including Ronnie Barrett, say yes, given all state and local law enforcement has depended on the civilian-owned manufacture of firearms since the 1968 closing of the Springfield Armory. The above-list may comprise but a portion of the U.S. firearms industry, but the longer it grows, the more likely anti-gun states are to rethink their laws, or face supplying their policemen with sharp sticks.
Threatening to Move Manufacturing Facilities
In case refusing to sell to state agencies doesn't put enough pressure on anti-gun politicians, gun makers are also threatening to hit them where it really counts: their economies. Several companies have informed their state leadership that if new, restrictive gun laws are passed, the companies will pack up and move to other states taking their employees, tax dollars and economic impact with them.
For instance, when New York and Connecticut considered microstamping legislation last fall, Remington and Colt threatened to move elsewhere.
Think that wouldn't matter to a senator or to a representative whose district includes an arms maker? Consider the fact that Connecticut-based Colt employs about 900 people. Just think if the state's other, larger companies such as Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Mossberg joined in the exodus. The firearms industry has approximately a $1.3 billion financial impact on the Connecticut economy. That's not pocket change.
And if Remington left Ilion, N.Y., many local economies would feel an immediate impact from which they may never recover. Big Green employs 1,200 workers. The children of Ilion attend Remington Elementary School.
"This whole valley is run by arms. Most of your stores and everybody here, restaurants, everything, is contingent on that plant," one local resident told NPR.
Clearly the New York state government - despite passing laws that restrict the very arms made by Remington and sister company Bushmaster sees great merit in keeping the factory in Ilion. Since 2009, Remington has received more than $5 million in state subsidies to help bring in jobs.
Yet aside from throwing a few bucks Remington's way, New York has done just about all it can to make Remington feel unwelcome. Remington has not repeated its threat to leave the state in the wake of New York's rededicated gun-control efforts, nor has another major New York gun maker, Kimber. Much speculation has swirled as to whether they will, and whether other manufacturers in states with anti-gun governments will do the same.
If they do decide to leave, they'll find plenty of willing hosts. On Feb. 22, pro-gun Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent a letter to 26 gun and ammo makers, inviting them to move operations to his gun-friendly state. However, Gov. Perry has competition from Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, who sent 14 similarly worded letters to such companies as Magpul (Colorado), Ruger (Connecticut), Smith & Wesson (Massachusetts), SIG Sauer (New Hampshire), Mossberg (Connecticut), Remington (New York), Kimber (New York) and more. In addition, government officials from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wyoming, Idaho and South Carolina have all sought to lure gun and ammo makers to their states in some fashion.
Magpul Sticks Its Neck Out
Few companies have so vocally defended our rights in recent weeks than Magpul Industries. It loudly entered the fray on Feb. 17 with a full-page ad in The Denver Post, saying it will leave Colorado taking 600 jobs and $85 million with it if the state passes a proposed ban on standard capacity magazines (The bill has passed the Colorado House and awaits Senate consideration.).
When some legislators called the company's bluff, Magpul posted the following to its Facebook page: "We're hearing some rumors that the Gov and the Dem caucus think we are bluffing. Just to clarify for them, then...we're not a political company. We don't play political games. We've made our position very clear, very publicly. We would not survive lying to our customer base, nor would we ever consider it. If you pass this, we will leave, and you will own it."
Magpul has further thumbed its nose at state legislators by announcing a program to allow Colorado residents to purchase up to 10 standard capacity magazines. Any orders placed by Coloradoans will also be moved to the front of the line, ensuring orders are received before anti-gun legislators can act.
If there was any doubt how gun and ammo manufacturers feel about Second Amendment rights and the legitimacy of their businesses, it's been erased. Many are making it clear to federal, state and local governments just how much gun makers are depended upon to arm law enforcement agencies, fuel state economies and more. Legislators who ignore these facts may have some explaining to do.
Are ARs Doomed?
Recent tragedies involving so-called "assault weapons" has prompted more than several elected officials to call for a renewed assault weapons ban.
One proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has no expiration date — as opposed to the one passed during the Clinton Administration — and even goes so far as to name certain companies and models by name, such as Stag Arms (pictured, the Stag Arms Executive Survivor's Kit.
The Rise of Bargain Guns
In the midst of all this hubbub, all Americans are still faced with a grim economy — and that includes gun owners. Crippled by our wallets, many of us are unable to expand our collection.
Luckily, a few companies have stepped in with some modestly priced handguns, rifles and shotguns for the coming year. You don't have to break the bank to get a quality product, and these new offerings help shooters enjoy their hobby without winding up in the poorhouse.
Will High-Cap Mags Survive?
Along with semi-auto rifles, high-capacity magazines could also be on the chopping block, including 30-round magazines for the AR-15 platform, though handguns could also be affected.
Such proposals have caused unprecedented demand for high-capacity magazines before it's too late, which has in turn led to...
The Inevitable Legal Quagmire
If history has taught us anything, it's that no new law passes without a little push-back in the following months. That said, should new gun control legislation be signed into law, it will open the door for countless legal battles in statehouses across the nation regarding wording or interpretation of these new policies.
This could obviously affect gun companies, who would be forced to either shut down or restructure if an "assault weapons" ban passes.
"Until gun shops, cops, game wardens, courts and your buddies get the new facts straight, few people will know exactly what is and isn't legal. I don't think anarchy will result. Rather, law-abiding citizens attempting to do the right thing will have a permanent pain implanted in their posteriors," writes Joseph von Benedikt of our sister magazine, Shooting Times. "... There are only so many government contracts to be had, and if private-citizen sales go away, it will strangle a huge industry that provides jobs and quality products for Americans."
With the legality of certain firearms and feeding devices up in the air, demand has risen to an astronomical level, and orders are being placed faster than companies can keep up with.
Stag Arms is reporting two years worth of backlogged orders, while Smith & Wesson has $332.7 million in backlogged orders — nearly double its backlogged orders in 2011. Ammunition is also in short supply; vendors are having trouble keeping ammo in stock, and even law enforcement agencies are being affected.
'This is the largest and hardest stampeding 'buffalo herd' (tactical firearms consumers) I've ever seen in my 30-plus years in the firearms industry, ' said S.P. Fjestad of Blue Book of Gun Values. 'Are they destined to run off the cliff and plunge to their deaths? We're going to find out in the next six months. '