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.