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For those of us who make the transition from gun owner and shooter to Second Amendment activist, the most disillusioning phenomenon we have to face is that not everyone we might expect to be an ally in the fight for the right to own and carry weapons can actually be relied on.
When I first became involved in this historical struggle, Smith & Wesson, that quintessentially American revolver manufacturer was actually owned by a British holding company that didn't give a rap about the Second Amendment, was much more concerned with the company's sales to police departments across the country, and was inclined to go along with any regulatory scheme politicians and bureaucrats came up with.
Similarly, the late Bill Ruger, the head Sturm Ruger & Company, never seemed to understand the Second Amendment. Paternalist and aristocrat that he appeared to fancy himself, he actually volunteered advice to the government concerning what he believed ought to be legal (whatever his company manufactured) and what should be outlawed. We have Ruger mostly to thank for the ten-round limit that was imposed during the ill-conceived Clinton-Dole Ugly Gun and Adequate Magazine Ban.
Some gun companies and their executives care only about the bottom line. Hired away from soft drink or underwear manufacturers, the men at the top don't really have any moral or sentimental attachment to the product itself. They don't love what they do. They might as well be manufacturing faucet washers. I don't suppose there's anything wrong with that, as far as it goes -- I'm a big fan of capitalism, myself -- but other companies are like the historic makers of fine musical instruments -- violins and guitars. Money is important chiefly in that it keeps the company and its employees going. What really counts is the quality of their product and the satisfaction of their customers.
Wildey J. Moore, inventor of magnum automatic pistols comes to mind. He actually ran for office in his home state as a libertarian and Second Amendment advocate. Ronnie Barrett stoutly refuses to sell his famous .50 caliber rifles to agencies of gun-banning governments, and he won't service the ones they already have. STI International won't sell their nifty 1911s to California police agencies because of the bizarre, insane microstamping scheme passed by that state's legislature.
Regrettably, another famous maker of 1911s, Kimber Manufacturing, seems to have trouble separating the goodguys from the badguys. According to an article by Ken Hanson, Esq., circulated on the Web by the Buckeye Firearms Association, and appearing on U.S. Concealed Carry Magazine's website, Kimber has acquired a bad habit: kissing up disgustingly to the destroyers of individual liberty by creating weapons especially dedicated to various California police agencies. In Hanson's words, these guns were specifically "designed for a local government committed to stripping civilians of the right to own this same gun."
Hanson urges his readers to "educate" Kimber with regard to what a terrible idea this is. It's exactly as if Jewish tailors in the 1930s had taken pride in making uniforms for the Nazi S.S. There is no moral distinction. The author suggests a number of actions that concerned gun owners might take. chiefly calling or writing to the company at 914-964-0771x324, or via US mail at Kimber, 2590 Hwy 35, Kalispell, MT 59901.
Although Hanson wants you to warn Kimber and its dealers of a possible boycott of their products by shooters concerned with their rights, he suggests your communication remain "polite, professional yet firm". I would make no such suggestion. This is a major breach of an implicit moral bond between a gunmaker and its clients, it is the rankest, most repulsive kind of hypocrisy, and it must be dealt with no less promptly and harshly than I urged in my 2000 essay "S&W Must Die".
The worldwide boycott which that essay helped to start broke S&W and sent them plunging -- repeatedly -- into bankruptcy. (Much the same thing happened to K-Mart when they foolishly hired the slavering, hysterical anti-gunner Rosie O'Donnell as their spokeswoman.) It is a story of which no firearms manufacturer today can possibly still be ignorant.
In short, we must ask shooters to kick the Kimber habit.
I agree with Hanson about the need for gun owners to react to Kimber's suicidal stupidity, but I would suggest also dealing with the problem at the other end. Why not a written pledge, to be taken and signed by individual police officers, that they will never attempt to confiscate weapons from civilians, whether it's during disasters like Hurricane Katrina, or as a result of local, state, or federal legislation.
If it's unconstitutional, it's automatically null and void.
That pledge can be archived by an organization like JPFO, and openly displayed online, making it easier to see who the goodguys and the badguys are. We could probably even design and make a nice little embroidered patch -- it might say "BILL OF RIGHTS ENFORCER" -- for the pledge-making police officers to sew on their uniforms. Until their superiors, veins standing out on their foreheads and little gobbets of spit blasting from their lips as they scream, order them to take it off.
Of course that, in itself, will teach cops everywhere a valuable lesson, and even make them ask themselves an important question, "Why am I helping to destroy The Bill of Rights", and the Kimber Kiss-ups should ask themselves the same question.
A fifty-year veteran of the libertarian movement, L. Neil Smith is the Author of 33 books including The Probability Broach, Ceres, Sweeter Than Wine, And Down With Power: libertarian Policy In A Time Of Crisis. He is also the Publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, now in its 17th year online.
Visit the Neil Smith archive on JPFO.
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