You know Dick’s, the anti-gun sports and outdoor chain that’s had trouble selling the guns it still carries since they decided to drop the sale of scary black rifles, wrote checks to fund gun control lobbyists and some firearms manufacturers have refused to sell to them. But Ed Stack, Dick’s CEO and largest shareholder, has a new idea to boost his stores’ firearms business: jump into selling smart guns.
As Reuters reports . . .
Ed Stack risked the ire of some suppliers and customers in February when he decided to pull assault-style weapons from the shelves of Dick’s Sporting Goods, the $3.6 billion retailer he runs. His latest move will do so again. Stack says he would support the sale of weapons that can only be fired by their owner, an idea that traditional gunsmiths and their lobbyists hate, but investors should cautiously welcome.
If Reuters was actually familiar with any aspect of the firearms industry, they’d know the last sentence in that graph is utterly false. Virtually no “traditional gunsmiths” or firearms industry lobbyists oppose the development or sale of smart guns. The only beef gun owners or the companies who make traditional firearms have with so-called smart guns is in efforts by politicians to use the force of law to mandate their sale instead of traditional guns.
As Reuters notes,
A well-intentioned, if ineffective, law in New Jersey mandates that once such guns hit the market, all others will be prohibited for sale in the state within three years. That has made any discussion of selling such weapons political poison. Early attempts at selling high-tech guns in America flopped.
That’s New Jersey state senator Loretta Weinberg’s brilliant legislative achievement the Reuters story is talking about. Her law has done more to stifle the development of “smart guns” than any technological hurdles ever have (but it’s OK, because she then blames the NRA for her blunder and the resulting lack of development). Anyway, we hear from reliable sources that there’s a good chance that Weinberg’s boneheaded law could be amended this year to undo its poison pill feature.
But let’s say a viable gun is introduced tomorrow, while the New Jersey law is still in place. Would Stack think twice about putting it in Dick’s stores and triggering the ban? That’s a rhetorical question.
Anyway . . .
Selling reliable, affordable intelligent guns could help (Dick’s profitability). They would be likely to attract both wealthier buyers who previously eschewed weapons, and firearm connoisseurs who like gadgets. Moreover, first-mover advantage would give Dick’s pricing power it lacks with traditional guns. All that’s needed now is a product worth retailing. Sending a clear sign to venture capitalists, tech firms and manufacturers that they’ll find both demand and a ready distributor should get things moving.
Yes, because as the Reuters story notes, “there’s not yet a weapon ready for mass production at a reasonable price.” And while a number of tinkerers are working on them, there’s still nothing immediately on the horizon.
But that’s a minor hurdle that Dick’s CEO Stack surely won’t have any trouble overcoming. And once he does, we’ll no doubt see hordes of technophiles and gun guys and gals flocking to Dick’s to buy the latest in firearms technology. Right?