I was tipped off yesterday morning about something of note to gun owners. I was told that Oregon-based Benchmade Knives was destroying firearms for the Oregon City, Oregon Police Department. A post appeared on the OCPD Facebook page (since taken down) with a few images and a statement of thanks to Benchmade:
The images show what appears to be a shotgun and a rifle being destroyed. I would have just opted to give them to some Bubba to have his way with them if I were the police. Same result, less potential backlash. While nothing particularly valuable was lost here, Benchmade seems to have failed to assess the optics of the situation before agreeing to destroy the guns.
The problem here isn’t that Benchmade destroyed the guns — I have ruined a few receivers in my time or cut them up when they were unsafe to build a rifle from — it’s that they allowed the police to involve them in their publicity.
The Oregon City Police posted this statement to their Facebook page last night, explaining that they’re required by law to destroy guns that are turned in or used in the commission of crimes:
The thing about gun owners, though, is that we have memories that would put a herd of elephants to shame. We remember slights going back decades. There are still gun owners who won’t buy anything from Ruger thirty years after the company’s now-deceased founder endorsed magazine capacity limits.
I contacted Benchmade’s PR Team and they sent me this statement regarding the destruction of the guns:
Benchmade is aware of the recent post from our local Oregon City Police Department.
We apologize for the confusion and concern that this post created. These were firearms that the Oregon City Police Department had to destroy in alignment with their policies. Oregon City Police requested the use of specialty equipment within the Benchmade facility to follow these requirements, and as a supporting partner of our local police force, we obliged the request.
Benchmade is a proud and unwavering supporter of both law enforcement and Second Amendment rights. These are commitments that we do not take lightly and will continue to support well into the future.
When asked for clarity from Oregon City Police Department, Chief Jim Band made the following statement: “When property is to be destroyed, it is the policy of the Oregon City Police Department to destroy property, including firearms, in accordance to our procedures and ORS. The Oregon City Police Department does not sell firearms.”
So Benchmade wasn’t taking a stand against the Second Amendment by aiding the local police department in destroying the guns. However, many who contact me raised questions about the company’s political support for anti-gun politicians.
According to opensecrets.com, Benchmade has made political contributions to a number of politicians over the years and they’ve been trending in one particular direction.
Here are Benchmade’s top contribution recipients:
|Senate||Ron Wyden (D-OR)||$12,900|
|House||Kurt Schrader, (D-OR)||$11,900|
|Senate||Mark Udall (D-CO)||$5,200|
|Senate||Martin Heinrich (D-NM)||$2,700|
|Senate||Scott Brown (R-MA)||$1,000|
|House||Robert Cornilles (R-OR)||$1,000|
|House||Greg Walden (R-OR)||$1,000|
Kurt Schrader has a decent record on guns. He voted yes on national reciprocity in 2017. The other major recipients of Benchmade’s contributions, however, are more troubling.
Martin Heinrich (D-NM), is unquestionably anti-gun. He, along with Mark Udall, sponsored the federal universal background check bill in the Senate. Ron Wyden (D-OR) isn’t any better on the Second Amendment. He’s supported UBCs and magazine capacity limits, as well as allowing lawsuits against firearm makers when guns that had been sold legally are later used in crimes.
To the casual observer, gun rights supporters, and potential knife customers, this isn’t a good look. The Venn diagram of gun owners and knife customers shows a lot of overlap and this could give many of them reason to look elsewhere for their next blade.
I’ve asked Benchmade for comment on their political contributions but haven’t received a response yet.
UPDATE 2PM EST:
I spoke with the Oregon City Police Dept. and they informed me that guns were in police custody when they were dismantled. The guns were destroyed in accordance with ATF procedure and were then shipped to their final destination to be completely destroyed.
The police told me that the guns were not permitted for resale and had been used in a number of violent crimes or forfeited by court order due a variety of circumstances. They did inform me that guns recovered after theft are not destroyed but are returned to their original owners or next of kin.
UPDATE 2/22/19 10:30 AM
I requested an explanation of the political donations from the PR team at Benchmade. I was sent an audio clip from the Lars Larson Show where a spokesman from Benchmade talked with the host about the incident and the donations were brought up. The spokesman expressed his support for 2A rights, but did not offer a clear explanation of why the donations were made to the opposition. He stated that Oregon politicians that support manufacturing were and are Democrats, but this does not explain the out of state donations to radical left wing politicians.