Some spurred by principle, others prodded by gun owner expectations bordering on demands, gun and gun accessory manufacturers are increasingly looking at leaving states that have recently enacted citizen disarmament edicts for friendlier locales.
“The idea now of investing additional funds in Maryland and thus rewarding a Government that has insulted our customers and our products is offensive to us so we will take steps to evaluate such investments in other States,” Beretta announced in May in response to Gov. Martin O’Malley signing a new set of restrictions.
“[A]t least a few [other manufacturers] are following through with threats to invest elsewhere,” Niraj Chokshi of The Washington Post related today, citing Kahr Firearms Group, headquartered in New York with a manufacturing facility in Massachusetts, opening a new plant in Pennsylvania, and two Connecticut companies, PTR Industries committing to moving to South Carolina, and Stag Arms making noises about doing the same.
They’re part of a trend Magpul Industries made headlines with when they decided to leave Colorado. And pressure to pull up stakes reflects not just manufacturers taking the initiative, but also reacting to expectations that some gun owners have made loud and clear, refusing to send their dollars to contribute to the prosperity of states hostile to their interests.
Some activists have gone even further, and are demanding gun companies cease doing business with anti-gun state law enforcement agencies. A consistent example of that has been set by Ronnie Barrett, who refuses to sell his company’s products to New York government agencies, and who over a decade ago told the LAPD he would “not sell, nor service, my rifles to those seeking to infringe upon the Constitution and the crystal clear rights it affords individuals to own firearms.” And this column reported how another company, LaRue Tactical, announced it would “limit law enforcement sales to same weapons as citizens.”
“It is not surprising that the radical anti-gun legislatures and governors in these states failed to consider the impact these extreme new laws would have on businesses and the jobs they support,” NRA-ILA noted in its report on private sector responses to government attacks on gun rights. “Fortunately, our federalist system gives people and businesses the opportunity to locate in states that continue to respect the individual rights of Americans and that best represent their economic interests.”
I’d argue with the word “gives,” but the sentiment is understood. What’s not is why they’re not leading by example, and silent on things within their control.
That’s because NRA’s Law Enforcement Division makes no distinction about states that continue to respect rights when “provid[ing] the law enforcement community with a means to certify law enforcement firearm instructors … The Law Enforcement Division is here to assist the law enforcement and military in any capacity it can.
“Although the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is involved in politics, the Law Enforcement Division does not get involved with political issues,” they explain. “Providing the best training possible to our law enforcement officers is our number one priority.
“We have only one goal in mind,” they elaborate, “to provide every law enforcement officer in the country with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to WIN a lethal encounter!”
Gun rights activists may not be sympathetic to that prime directive, at least if such a position were being promoted by private enterprise. A recent angry outcry to news that Troy Industries was engaging in some controversial professional affiliations suggests the company one keeps is as important to some as where that company keeps itself.
When Andrew Cuomo talks about gun confiscation in New York, and when the NRA’s own legislative analyst and consultant in California is warning about a “countdown to confiscation” there, it seems fair for members to ask why it’s in their interests to support the Law Enforcement Division’s apolitical “one goal” -- a goal that incidentally, will enable very political ends. It seems fair to ask why NRA does not show leadership by suspending law enforcement training activities in states they recognize as repressive, and that even gun makers feel compelled to flee.
Why would gun owners expect less from their rights leaders than they do from their hardware suppliers?
What the Obama administration can’t get through legislation they’re determined to get just by issuing orders. The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. Click here to read "Executive Actions.”
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