According to recent news, the Los Angeles-based company’s creditors are taking over TOMS in exchange for restructuring its debt. In a letter to employees, TOMS CEO, Jim Alling apparently shared the news that the deal will help the company deal with a $300 million loan due next year and will mean a new $35 million investment in the company from the new owners.
Two Left Feet
Last year at this time, TOMS was making news for its new gun control campaign, centered on getting Congress to approve flawed Universal Background Check legislation.
In addition to direct lobbying, the campaign also involved a $5 million corporate contribution to gun control advocacy groups, a cross-country tour culminating in a rally and efforts to promote grassroots lobbying among customers.
One year later, we know that enough members of Congress were brave enough to reject the emotionally-charged legislation, which would have had no effect on criminal misuse of firearms.
TOMS campaign failed. Customers didn’t run out to buy TOMS products in response to their corporate support for gun control. Unfortunately for TOMS, the business is now struggling.
It’s easy to see why any company, especially one based on social activism like TOMS, would want to weigh in on issues in our country and be seen as a virtuous member of society. The firearms and ammunition industry shares the goal reducing the criminal misuse of firearms, and has created a number of programs over the years to help address unauthorized access to firearms and to promote safe handling and storage practices.
A Mile in Our Shoes
The firearms and ammunition industry prides itself on high rates of safety and regulatory compliance. Our voluntary programs, often in partnership with state and federal government agencies, help to curtail the actual problem of guns getting into the wrong hands. We work to make sure states are submitting all prohibiting records to NICS.
We provide millions of free gun locks and educational materials in all states. We train firearms retailers to spot straw purchasers, to comply with all laws, to use discretion when making transactions, and in how to keep their inventory secure. We work with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help address the tragedy of suicides in our country.
In short, we know it’s time for Real Solutions. Safer Communities.SM to help continue the trend of reducing both violence and firearms accidents in our country. The firearms industry welcomes other companies in whatever industry to join us in our efforts.
So, instead of lobbying for ineffective, irrational gun control policies, perhaps TOMS management should focus on selling shoes.
Joe Bartozzi is the president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.