At What Point Does Unification Become Counterproductive?

Last month, when Cheaper Than Dirt! responded to the tragic killings in Newtown, CT by suspending all online firearms sales in the interest of re-examining their marketing approach (presumably to emphasize “sporting” firearms) and followed that miss-step up with ridiculous price gouging of ammo and magazines (400+% markups), they got what they deserved: Swift Backlash from the firearms community and a loss of many thousands of customers. Since that time, reports of them canceling back-orders and selling the same items for the new higher prices have been rampant. Yet, I was still told by some people at SHOT Show last week that we should not ostracize or boycott them, because we need to be “united” . . .

For a couple of years now, I have been prodded by people in the Open Carry Movement, and occasionally questioned by those who don’t care a lick about open carry. They don’t like my criticism of those who wear guns openly to get attention, to cause confrontation and to agitate law enforcement and non-gun owners.

I have taken the position that those people have done the Right to Keep & Bear Arms movement more harm than good as I believe was demonstrated clearly in the legal changes enacted in California with regard to open carry of unloaded firearms (the first major negative state level firearms legislative action in over a decade up until the recent New York Restrictions). And then there was the ‘clarification’ of Mississippi laws that prohibit OC which had, up until then, been a gray area. I have been accused of not supporting the Second Amendment because I was not willing to give this cantankerous crowd my support on the basis of presenting a “unified” front as gun owners.

A couple of weeks ago, I was even challenged for wanting to distance myself and all responsible gun owners from the conspiracy theory babbling of Alex Jones on a national television program. During his interview Mr. Jones was making some good points about gun violence and allowed himself to be distracted by the opportunity to insinuate that the US Government was complicit in the attacks of 9/11.

Again, the call was for me to embrace Mr. Jones as just another gun owner because it somehow weakened our cause to not be “unified”. Personally, I think it weakens our cause to mix the RKBA discussion with our own separate, unrelated niche passions in regard to lifestyle, politics or religion. It only serves to cut our movement off from the vast majority of moderately minded responsible gun owners.

Most recently, I read a statement from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade organization of the firearms industry, calling for “unification” in regard to the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show. The organizers of that show, Reed Exhibition Company, have decided to ban all AR style rifles and accessories.

ESOS is one of the largest hunting shows in the world, open to consumers, and it’s now dealing with many industry leading companies, including Cabela’s and Trijicon that have pulled out of the event entirely in response to their decision to ostracize the fastest growing and most popular section of our community.

So, why would the NSSF put out a call for people to stay in the show? Reed Exhibitions also runs the SHOT Show, the largest trade event in the firearms industry. How is it possible that we can stay in a show to present  a “united” front when the part of the industry that needs our support the most has been kicked out? I am a member of the NSSF and it makes no sense to me. I applaud the NSSF’s official statement as a step in the right direction, but I hope that there is follow up that results in a change in Reed’s position on ARs. Or a change in SHOT Show management.

So I ask the question, “At what point does one’s actions put them outside the group?”   When your actions make you a detriment to the bigger picture and/or to the greater good and fundamental principles of our cause, I think you step out of the umbrella of “unification.” When you cut off customers, entire classes of firearms, provide the other side with ammunition to paint us as extremists or give the impression that we have something to hide — something to be ashamed of or apologize for — I think you’re beyond the scope of claiming protection under the “unified front” clause.

Over a decade ago, I wrote a statement for a project called the “Firearms Owners Unification Project.” The fight at that time was to unify hunters, sport shooters and even some industry leaders who would accept capacity limits and firearms bans because their interests weren’t being threatened along with the rest of us who saw the bigger picture and were being directly affected by the bans and restrictions of that era.

We’ve largely won that fight and we’ve seen incremental encroachment for what it is. A temporary ban becomes permanent. A 10-round limit becomes a 7-round limit. This process continues until we don’t have any firearms left. As individual gun owners, most of us get that now.

I’m all for the unification of our movement and our community. But not if those I’m being asked to join with are making our job harder or trying to play the old game of “hide the black guns.” We know that doesn’t work. The primary reason for the Second Amendment is defense of one’s self, one’s family and, ultimately — if need be — this country. It’s not hunting and it’s not competition shooting.

Those who have benefitted from the amazing growth in the defensive, tactical and “military style” sectors of our industry, including Cheaper Than Dirt! and Reed Exhibitions, should think about what “unification” really means. And, it might be time for NSSF to shop around for a better ally to organize SHOT Show (or at least to put some public pressure on Reed to rescind their decision) so that we can know that we are all truly unified.

78 Responses to At What Point Does Unification Become Counterproductive?

  1. avatarJPD says:

    Nope, I will NEVER do business with Cheaper Than Dirt, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Groupon. If I was near that show, or any other by Reed, I would not attend.

    I will not forget, nor forgive. If the list continues to grow, so be it.

    • avatarMike DC says:

      I’ve also stopped shopping a Dicks. I’ve never really liked cheaper than dirt. I prefer MidwayUSA. They have fast shipping, good prices which haven’t gone up recently like others and offer to round up you order to the nearest dollar for a donation to the NRA.

      Totally agree we need to unite with true supports of the second amendment, convince those on the margins to join in the political fight and police those who just want attention so we can win the culture war on guns.

      • avatarSammy says:

        Ditto on what Mike said, especially about Midway. I got 2 BX 25s (that was the limit per order) and 750 rounds of CCI .22LR post S/H for under 80.00 delivered. I was going to place a few orders more but in the spirit of community, I wanted others to to be able to “come git some”. Ain’t I swell? Anyway CTD was one of my home pages, and after going into “My Account” and coping all of the purchases I had made with them, (for my records) I wrote them the “Dear John” letter. And I agree, supporters of A2 don’t throw sporting rifles under the bus. F’n hypocrites, have record sales because of Ars Aks etc. then they gouge us. I’m in business, and I don’t want to hear that “whatever the traffic will bare” crap. They have an obligation to their customers. Real easy to be nice when things are OK, but let a little fecal matter hit the oscillator and it’s CYA time. I don’t buy from traitors to the cause. If they want unification they have to move towards us.

      • avataruncommon_sense says:

        Mike DC said it for me as well.

        • avatarGriff says:

          What about Wal-Mart, folks? I never really shopped there anyway, but I did purchase some of my bulk ammo there. Never again.
          We have a Wal-mart distribution enter in my neck of the woods, and the rumor is that they haven’t stopped receiving ammo shipments- they’re just holding them.

        • avatarKarim says:

          Actually spoke to the guy at the ammo counter at my local Wal-Mart in IL. He indicated on saturday that they had a delivery on Friday which refilled all of their .22 ammo and that the one box of federal bulk which I was buying was one of only 5 remaining boxes of .22 in the entire store. The sales clerk said that he thought the reason they sold out so quick was because they had not raised their prices and so they were the cheapest source for ammo in the area.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          Griff, based on my experience, that rumor is bogus. My Walmarts are still getting ammo. Not as much, and it’s gone if you blink, but it’s coming in.

        • avatarrosignol says:

          Yeah, the rumors are bogus. Wal-Mart is still getting ammo, but the shipments are so small that it’s sold within hours.

    • avatarRokurota says:

      I’m more bent out of shape by CTD’s price gouging than their cowardice. Their shipping rates always blew, but seeing C-mags for $100 did it for me. I don’t even read their blog anymore.

      • avatarInBox485 says:

        I told CTD to FOAD many years back when they decided to ban sales of legal items to CA that not even CA managed to ban. When called on it, they claimed that they were keeping with the spirit of the AWB and that if CA gun owners wanted anything made of black plastic at all they needed to overturn the AWB. So by and large the state of CA has collectively told them to ES-FO-AD. Their actions since seem to only reinforce that feeling about twice a year.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    I don’t “unify” with sellouts, traitors or lunatics. They can do me no good at all, and are likely to do me harm. Lower Than Dirt and Reed Exhibitions can upstick @sswards, as can that goofball Alex Jones. That said, I have no bone to pick with the OC crowd.

  3. avatarsquarebob says:

    So will Reed ban black guns from the Shot Show next year if they are still the exhibitor? Hard to unify behind companies that act like Reed and CTD.

    • avatar16V says:

      The question (hopefully) is more what about happens when Reed isn’t able to get exhibitors because of its polices, and can’t get attendees without exhibitors.

  4. avatarAnmut says:

    In Wisconsin, Wisconsin Carry Inc successfully used open carry to soften the blow towards concealed carry. Next up – Constitutional Carry.

  5. avatarMotoJB says:

    Like hell…these guy’s will never get another cent of my money.

  6. avatarJay W. says:

    Well presented point of view and excellent food for thought!

  7. avatarhtom says:

    There’s a fuzzy line between unification and collaboration. I’d rather not come close to it.

    • avatarDisThunder says:

      That’s a bingo! When the actions of some of your “friends” look strangely in keeping with those of your enemies, it’s time you part ways.

      I think there’s a big difference between organizations like Reed and CTD’s actions and guys like Jones or Yeager, though- at least those guys are passionate about what they believe in, and that’s something I may not always agree with, I can certainly understand where they’re coming from.

  8. avatarWilliam says:

    Such a plethora of pejorations… the guy’s taken up for you Second Amendment rights for NINETEEN YEARS. It’s OK. You’ll never figure it out.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. avatarOutlaw says:

    Sorry to piss on your parade. But they’re trying to do what you do to open carriers: tell them to sit down, shut up, and FOAD. They want to hide EBRs because they scare people, like open carry scares people. Why do you need an EBR? Why do you need to open carry? Why do you need to conceal carry, what do you have to hide?

    You know, I blame Leland Yee’s bill to ban bullet buttons on all those people openly flouting their EBRs at the range. If they just kept them at home or under wraps the bill would’ve never come up.

    Pincus, you blame the victim when you should be blaming the politicians who infringe on the RKABA in the first place.

    And who in the comments section of the Alex Jones TTAG article you linked challenged you for not wanting to be associated with Alex Jones? I don’t see it.

    By the way lumping open carriers, by implication, in with backstabbing anti-gun corporatist fudd businesses is pretty low but unsurprising considering the source.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Yeah, I don’t get the hating on OC. Those guys are doing the heavy lifting for the CC guys.

      • avatarOutlaw says:

        I don’t know that they do heavy lifting for CC guys, but I believe the second amendment most definitely protects OC.

        I wouldn’t OC if it was legal here and some of the OCers do things I think are in bad taste, but I don’t give a crap about the potential hurt feelings of cops who respond to some ninny’s complaint about someone exercising their rights. Pincus apparently does and it makes zero sense to me.

        • avatarSammy says:

          I only understand OC from the access to the weapon point of view. No shirt/Jacket in the way, but for me it’s CC all the way. I’m not tipping my hand. And I don’t want to strike up a chit chat about my gun with anyone outside the shooting community, especially the LLEOs. Blessings and brotherhood to OC guys, just saying it’s not for me.

          Back on topic, is Reed an American company? I’ve caught whiffs of a UK firm promoting Knife & Gun Shows.
          Any truth to that?

      • avatarKeith says:

        RF scoffs at “hide the black rifles” as sending the wrong signals, yet rejects OC. Are we comfortable with bearing arms or not. I get the risk of offending with OC, but how about CA? In the large metro areas you could either open carry or wait for shall issue to happen. The status quo was intolerable. To fault CA OC’ers for the new law is just nonsense. Anyway by RFs reckoning CA residents are no worse off than before, if OC is off the table. In CA, the elimination of OC and the de facto ban on CC may well lead to a chance to attack CA law in the courts.

        “Aggressive” OC is no bueno, but blanket condemnation hurts the big-picture cause.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Outlaw seems to speak with sense here. I await RP’s reply.

  10. avatarShire-man says:

    This sounds an awful lot like self hating homosexuals telling their community not to have a pride parade because it’ll turn people off.

    Haters gonna hate. A certain percentage of the population will never come around. Let them be and don’t let liberty suffer because you’re too busy treading lightly around the asylum lest you set off some nutter in the corner.

  11. avatarCarl says:

    “Cheaper Than Dirt” and Obama have a lot in common.

    Both are after your money and don’t care about your legal rights.

  12. avatarRon Jones says:

    We need a list of verified sellouts. TTAG please make a link on your site of sellouts. We need to know! I will facebook the crap out of your list to make sure everyone I know who is pro 2A will not shop there. F them if they think they will get another dine. Midwayusa and Cabelas sell everything I need.

  13. avatarMoonshine says:

    I still hold a grudge against S&W. Do you really suppose that I will ever again shop at Dick’s or CTD?

    • avatarInBox485 says:

      If it helps, S&W doesn’t exist anymore. They were bought out by owners that mandated a full 180 on S&W’s crap.

    • avatarWA_2A says:

      The 686 would have been a great revolver if not for that useless trigger lock. As it is, Ruger wins this round.

      • avatarHuman Being says:

        Yet Bill Ruger, who said no one in America needed more than 10 rounds for anything, was a supporter of the Clinton AWB. That company changed direction in the last decade, just like S&W, after Mr Ruger passed away.

        • avatarrosignol says:

          They’ve also been improving their product line. We’ve got the new guys to thank for the thicker barrel on the mini-14. The new barrel doesn’t heat up and go random nearly as quickly as the older models did.

        • avatarSammy says:

          I believe Mr. Ruger said ” No honest man needs more than 10 rounds” Seems kind of bi polar.

  14. avatarInBox485 says:

    Really?!? Unify this!

    No really, I don’t need to unify with clowns that misrepresent history and make vague calls for violence, or knowingly piss in the face of a legislature looking for an excuse to expand gun control, or deal with businesses that treat customers in a disreputable manner.

    Sure we do need to stop discriminating against gun owners of a different flavor than us, and we need to stand and say that all our rights belong to us whether we give a rip about some given right or not. Imagine if all civil rights movements just got together and said, if it means more liberty, we’ll back each other period. We won’t back down if CNN or Rush whines about it, and we won’t play cafeteria plan with liberty. That would get us somewhere.

    But marginalizing ethics to be inclusive of hot heads, cowards, loons, and vultures… Not so much. We need them about as much as environmental protectionists need the carbon tax scammers.

  15. avatarJay Dunn says:

    Cheaper Than Dirt cancelled my back order for a case of ammo as “unavailable”. That day they listed the same ammo at a 100% higher price.

    None of us should ever send them another dollar.

  16. avatarTex74 says:

    Well stated. Just look at the Republican party for an example of what cooperating for the sake of unification does. Their platform is anti abortion, smaller government and tax reform but yet they allow people like Olypia Snow to call themselves Republicans and represent the party. So now they look nothing like the conservative party they were founded as and they keep losing major elections because of it.

    • avatarChuckN says:

      Snowe is out finally, but feel free to replace her
      name with Susan Collins. I swear, every time I
      hear that RINO brag about how she “reached
      across the aisle”, I’ll throw up. She never has
      figured out that she’s the only one reaching.

  17. avatarAlphaGeek says:

    Rob, you rock, and this is one of the best thought pieces I’ve read anywhere in the last month. Couldn’t agree with you more, including on OC.

  18. avatarSC says:

    The “line” where somebody leaves the “unification umbrella” will be different for everyone. I can say this – CTD,Dicks and Reeds have crossed my line. I will never buy another product from them.

  19. avatarWA_2A says:

    The grabbers’ “divide and conquer” strategy is working. They’re targeting “assault weapons”, deceiving sportsmen and hunters into thinking they’re safe. It’s almost easy to follow their logic. They don’t need high-cap mags, or pistol grips, adjustable stocks, or “shoulder things that go up,” do they? Maybe if they compromise the antis will go away.

    Doubt me? Just look at NFA. Owning a fully-automatic weapon is a near impossibility and you have to get federally raped just to own a suppressor, SBR, or SBS. That could be us. And soon, they’ll start to take away detachable magazines…restrict internal magazine capacities…maybe restrict “high-powered sniper rifles,” AKA anything more powerful than a .308…soon they start to tighten that noose until all we have are single-shot .22s.

    Doubt me? These people are geniuses. They’ve played on mass ignorance of firearms to portray “assault rifles” as evil firearms that are somehow more dangerous than others, and only designed to mow people down. I know too many people who think the AWB simply bans fully automatic rifles.

  20. avatarAndy says:

    I’ve received the CTD catalogs for years and never bought a thing from them, nothing. I’ve always thought they were overpriced, can’t say I’m surprised by the notion that they would cancel a back order to double the price on an item.

  21. avatarHighvoltage says:

    Ironic the company with the name Cheaper than Dirt sells Colt mags for $130, and pmags for over 5x retail(when they had them) their rational is that they do it to ensure they keep product in stock. That must be the same reason they cancelled people’s orders at normal prices, only to re-list at their new prices. I get the whole free market, they are free to charge what the want, and I’m free to buy elsewhere.

    I’ll keep giving my business to Brownell’s, sure they sold out of their in stock items quickly, but as soon as they got more, my backordered 10 gen 3 pmags were shipped promptly, and total cost, including shipping was about the same as what it would cost me to buy a single Colt 30 round mag and have it shipped (and handled which they also charge for).

    I won’t set foot in a Dick’s store again, and after I informed my wide about Groupon’s new policy, she cancelled their service. (And we’d made plenty of purchases through them in the past, including discounted range time.)

  22. avatarAharon says:

    Traitors and opportunists are not on our side. They are a cancer that needs to be cut or burned away.

  23. avatarCasey T says:

    Did we unify during the Revolutionary War with Benedict Arnold? So why would we unify with traitors who don’t support the cause? Any business who backs down is effectively a turncoat and should lose revenue until they go bankrupt. That’s how you win this, cull the cowards and present a strong and united front. We all have work to do by contacting our elected officials and educating everyone who owns a firearm but supports any type of restriction. Also, if you have any extra ammo (I know there is a massive shortage), take a non-gun owner out shooting. If we educate enough people, we can increase our numbers and win this thing.

  24. avatarBlehtastic says:

    Knowing how to bring people to your side and not alienate the sheeple unnecessarily is required if you’re going to speak for the gun community.

    Open carrying a sidearm where cc is prevalent and has already been accepted by the masses is lovely and should be encouraged. Slinging an AR 15 across your back in a JCPenney using a sling position that wouldn’t even allow you to get to the gun quickly if the need arose is just inflammatory.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Sheeple… Christ Almighty I hate that word.

      Maybe you could begin not alienating the sheeple by not referring to them as sheeple, you dimwit.

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        Use of “that word” aside, it’s the JCPenney incident which is causing me to be irked with OC activists this week. That one guy has caused more freaking out among the non-gun-owners than you might believe.

      • avatarensitu says:

        Sheeple do not know that they are sheeple because sheep rarely raise their heads high enough to see that they are nothing more than a manipulated wage slave

  25. avatarg says:

    Nice commentary by Mr. Pincus. Bravo!

  26. avatarPulatso says:

    NSSF can cry for unification all they want, but it needs to be at Eastern, not at all the business and consumers that are telling Eastern to pound sand. Eastern made a calculated political decision to throw a portion of the gun community out on it’s ear, and brother, they can sleep in that bed. Unification with someone who doesn’t actually share your ideals isn’t unification, it’s dilution. We who believe that 2A protects all gun rights can find another show to build into the the biggest gun show us peon consumers can attend and Eastern can dry up and blow away.

  27. avatarAlan says:

    Rob,

    I think on some of your points you are spot on.

    a. Cheaper than dirt…. Dicks etc. I do not appreciate Companies gouging people and I will remember. I was in a local gun store last Saturday. Asked them if they had glock 17 mags. He went in the back and produced 2 beat up 10 rounders for $40 and a beat up used 33 rd korean mag for $89. They also had 3 used AR’s starting at $3000. I am not sure if they are on consignment but it turned me off and I didn’t even buy the 9mm ammo they had in stock. I walked.

    B. Alex Jones. I wince when I see him on any new program representing gun owners. He means well, but might as well wear a tinfoil hat.

    C. I applaud Cabela’s and Trijicon pulling out of the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show. That is where we need unification, all firearm releated companies should pull out if they want to show discrimination against a type of firearm.

    D. Regarding Open Carry, I am glad it is allowed in Minnesota. I don’t want to find myself in the situation the Fl video showed when the cop saw the CCW under the guys shirt. Will I open carry? No I perfer not to advertise.

  28. avatardin says:

    spot on, Rob. thanks for this.

  29. avatarMark D says:

    Several gun/pawnshops in my area have ammo on the shelves- but they aren’t selling it!

  30. avatarKarim says:

    I am going to say, that it is about time we stopped playing defense and starting playing offense. I’d like to see the existing laws start to get repealed. The problem is NOT Freedom and Liberty but rather People.

  31. avatarSilver says:

    Just look at what “uniting” with leftists has gotten us as a country.

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