What to do about products and brands that oppose our Second Amendment rights
By Benjamin Rist
My wife and I are moving soon, and we recently began watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and decided we want to (at least loosely) follow the KonMari method of de-cluttering as we pack up. One of the fundamental guidelines of KonMari is asking yourself if a particular item sparks joy in you. If it doesn’t, kick it to the curb.
One thing I know I’ll be kicking to the curb: my Levi’s jeans. How should I rid myself of them? That’s up to you.
In 2018, Levi Strauss announced it would partner with Everytown for Gun Safety to create Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety, and over four years funnel at least $1 million into these and other anti-gun organizations. It’s my hope that by now, most of you also know about last Thursday’s letter to the U.S. Senate, signed by 145 business leaders urging passage of universal background checks (UBC’s) and red flag laws (RFL’s). Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss, was of course one of these signatories.
The danger RFL’s pose is obvious to most of us and UBC’s are, at best, extremely burdensome. Both are infringements and steps down the slippery slope in any case. This comes after a week or so of well-known retail and grocery stores asking that folks not open carry in their stores.
This all adds to an ever-increasing list of anti-gun businesses who have shown they are either truly misguided or value virtue signaling over the rights and safety of their customers. The thing is, they have every right to do so as independent corporations. And we have the right to not give them our business, our patronage, our money.
This is a right we should exercise immediately and to the fullest extent possible. We need to boycott these businesses and be as loud about it as we can.
As gun-owners, we have pretty good numbers behind us, but we’re not the loudest group out there. Sometimes, as individuals, we’re cagey about the fact we belong to this wonderful community of gun owners, whether as a result of societal pressure or calculated moves not to show our full hand prior to any number of worst case scenarios. Additionally, many in our ranks are plagued by apathy.
I believe that as a community, we need to get less cagey. The long game for the anti-gunners is to de-normalize gun ownership and use. If the majority of us stay silent, we will lose. In fact, those of us who are already talking need to get louder. That doesn’t mean you should out and lose a job you can’t afford to lose and for goodness sake don’t get yourselves SWAT’ed.
I’ll be the first to admit that it is, and will be, extremely difficult. Hell, I’m wearing a pair of my aforementioned Levi’s right now, and I took an Uber earlier this week. Obviously one must prioritize and that’s a personal choice.
Weigh the offense against how valuable a product or service is to you and the effort it will take to boycott. My Levi’s were the first pants in a long time that brought me joy. Brought. Past tense. Their offense is too great for the product to be worth it to me now.
On the other hand, for example, take another signatory from that list: Square. Tons of small businesses use Square as their point-of-sale system. They have a policy against using their service in relation with firearms (as so many do) and their CEO supports UBC’s and RFL’s.
Is that worth the effort of steering clear of any retailers that use Square? That’s for each one of you to decide on a personal level. But we can also think of less-intense efforts that might shift the equation.
Are you close friends with a small-business owner who uses Square? Maybe try to educate them, let them know of the alternatives (though they might be hard-pressed to find those in the POS space).
Perhaps as you read down that list of 145 CEO’s and think back to other infractions businesses have leveled against gun-owners, there are quite a few that don’t make sense for you to boycott. That’s okay. This will all be hard enough without criticizing ourselves and each other over our shortcomings.
I just want us all to do a little better, to nudge those who do nothing to do something.
Going hand-in-hand with boycott efforts, let’s help each other find pro-gun alternatives to these companies (or at least ones willing to use logic over emotion). Let’s enable the entrepreneurs among us to create new alternatives where we can, and pledge them our support (FireFunder is a great example from recent memory, though unfortunately on hiatus).
Finally, to bring things back to my jeans dilemma. I’ve already decided that Levi Strauss will no longer get any more of my money, and that I’ll no longer provide them with free advertising by continuing to wear their logo out and about. The question still remains: how will I discard them?
Around the same time as the Levi’s announcement, Nike used Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign, to the chagrin of many people after the whole kneeling-to-the-anthem debacle. Many of those people chose to respond by burning their Nike gear and taking to social media to make it known. Over the past year I’ve often wondered: if folks reacted so strongly to that Nike ad, why the hell didn’t gun-owners take a torch to every pair of Levi’s they owned?
Well, a few did, but I know why more didn’t follow suit. It’s because we pride ourselves on possessing and displaying more decorum than most, and many of us simply can’t quite bring ourselves to destroy something that still functions. I don’t think we need to abandon those principles just yet.
Thus, I propose that everyone who believes in the Second Amendment who owns a pair of Levi’s (and is of the financial means to do so) donate them to the needy – Goodwill, Salvation Army, whomever you choose – but not before ripping off the logo patch and burning it.
Will you join me? I can boycott and I can burn, but a movement of people burning their Levi’s logos is exponentially louder than one person. Think you have a better idea? Let me know in the comments. Want to join me, but think the movement needs a cool catchy hashtag or whatever? Propose one! Let’s do this together, as a community.