So I’m beginning to wonder if this whole “boycott” is going to turn into our own worst enemy. We’ve known for a while that the civilian market for firearms has some serious muscle behind it, but I’m beginning to wonder if some are trying to flex it when in the grand scheme we really shouldn’t be.
I bring this up mainly because Sean has placed MagPul on the bubble and is thinking about putting them on his naughty list.
First, let me state, this isn’t an attack against Sean, I love him, I read him, I’m even hosting his site for him. It isn’t really a smack against the boycott either, it’s a good thing and it helps bring eyes to the subject and show sincerity.
Where I do think we have a problem though is just placing an automatic pass fail on something without really thinking things through. This becomes much like the “zero tolerance” policies at schools that we often joke about being “zero brains”.
Let’s look explicitly at the MagPul situation. MagPul made the following comment on the AR15.com forums.
The answer is yes, our Distributors are allowed to sell to LEOs in ban states. Our founder has also said regarding LEO restrictions, “We have not considered such a move as we are not convinced that this tactic will have any effect on those in power (they will just buy Israeli or some other generic parts). It also adversely punishes street cops, local sheriffs and individual military members for the actions of those in power. The last thing we want to do is hurt those who support our cause.”
On it’s surface, applied in a zero tolerance situation, yet they fit the “naughty” list. Except there are some potential hangups for some companies with joining the boycott. Not to mention would it be worth MagPul pulling out of it’s distributors for one state?
Further while MagPul may be able to help influence a distributor, they cannot out right tell a distributor what to do. For example, say I was a distributor and bought a York Arms rifle. Someone had a “law enforcement” exemption, we know there isn’t but for argument sake, and wanted to buy it from me. We do the proper FFL level paper work and I sell it because the price is right to me, read I just paid for two new rifles from Wally. Tell me, did York Arms violate his boycott of shipping arms into New York? While one could create a contract with a distributor detailing those facts, you cannot just throw out existing contracts or get a new contract if your distributor isn’t interested. While you could just stop working with that distributor, that would also mean lost revenue for the manufacturer.
Ultimately though there’s more going on here than just New York. Yeah the NY SAFE act sucks, it’s a big deal, and yes we need to stick it to them. Tell me though, where should MagPul’s priority be regarding the support for the current fight regarding gun rights, with New York or it’s home state of Colorado?
Since the beginning of the flareup in Colorado MagPul has been at the forefront of the fight. Not only is it at the front, they have laid plans to leave Colorado should the magazine ban pass. This isn’t a joke folks, that means either moving tooling, investing in new tooling, new buildings, hiring workers, there is a massive investment and a hit to revenue in that. Injection molding machines aren’t cheap and they aren’t light, and a move is going to be costly. Nothing comes for free.
Then to move further in the fight for their local community MagPul is now directing all of it’s production to residents of Colorado:
We are proud to announce that within a matter of days we will be going live with a new program. Due to a bill currently moving through the Colorado legislature, there is the possibility that Colorado residents’ ability to purchase standard capacity magazines will soon be infringed. Before that happens, and MagPul is forced to leave the state in order to keep to our principles, we will be doing our best to get standard capacity PMAGs into the hands of any Colorado resident that wants them.
Verified Colorado residents will be able to purchase up to ten (10) standard capacity AR/M4 magazines directly from MagPul, and will be given immediate flat-rate $5 shipping, bypassing our current order queue.
Our customers outside of Colorado, please know that our PMAG production will continue at an ever-increasing rate until we do relocate, shipments to our distributors in other states will continue, and that we do not expect relocation to significantly impact PMAG production. We are also aware that Colorado is not the only state with existing or pending magazine capacity restrictions; we are working on programs for other affected states as well.
No one else is getting anything. The residents of the community in which they call home gets first dibs. That is an honorable thing, overall it probably won’t cost them much, but the fight overall in Colorado with the possible move as well as other stress will cost them money.
I would like to remind everyone that MagPul hasn’t raised prices for their mags. The increase in price seen retail is from distributors and retailers raising prices due to limited supply.
So tell me, why are we going to label MagPul a pariah, boycott them, and otherwise cause them economic harm because some of their distributors still sell to law enforcement in New York? It doesn’t make sense to me and it seems an awful lot like the knee jerk reactions against Alan Gottlieb.
MagPul is making a decision on more than just the black and white we see. They need income to continue their fight in Colorado and to help shield them from the potential losses from a move. While they are fighting all of this, we stand out in the wings ready to turn our backs on them. We need to be very careful about who we label an enemy and it needs to be clear and concise and pretty much black and white.
There is no black and white with MagPul. They are a business and they are trying to protect their business while doing the right thing for their local community first. Had MagPul not had to be in a fight at the local level it is possible they could jumped on the NY boycott train, we ultimately don’t know. The fact is MagPul is doing a lot of things right and undertaking a lot of risk and for us to turn our backs for the actions of distributors seems like a solid way to stab a friendly in the back.
If we’re so upset by it, why aren’t we leading the train to boycott those distributors so that MagPul isn’t the only one stuck with the final bill? How much revenue does MagPul have to sacrifice to prove they’re on our side?
If we’re going to hang MagPul because they don’t further extend their neck over the NY Safe Act, we must immediately hang both Ruger and Remington for their refusal to move out of the state of New York with the passage of the Safe Act. Not to mention Beretta USA has issued the same threat to move to the Maryland state assembly, but I don’t see them on the boycott list either. We either start applying this blindly over all companies equally or we actually use the grey matter between our ears.
Update: So Sean gave me a call tonight and we had a nice discussion. Many of you are going to read through this and you may not catch why the above equaled the naughty list being removed. The reason is simple, we can effectively determine who is actually out there supporting us on the front regarding the NY SAFE Act. We cannot actually determine who is really throwing gun owners under the bus.
MagPul is a great example and they do not deserve to be knifed in the back as a traitor. As Tam has said, we in this community are fantastic at stabbing traitors in the back but we need to be sure they actually are a traitor. Some may not support the boycott not because they support police over the rest of us, but because of legal fears from being publicly traded, or disagreement on how effective that tactic will be at garnering support among the people who actually use the products.
What his list has become though is a fantastic resource for promoting businesses that do support our rights. If you’re in the market for a new AR or something else, you can go down the list and send your business there. We can use that tool to promote companies that have done things that prove their support.
Trying to create a list of those deserving of our wrath is a bit more difficult. Doubly so as we start to try to lean on the bigger companies. What can happen is we paint them into a corner with absolutely no way out. Once that happens we’re no longer seen as friendly or something to be positive for them. When that happens we start to lose our momentum, and on the boycott side that would be very bad.
Don’t look at this as we shouldn’t pay attention to companies who stab us in the back, look at this as, be sure you know a company is a traitor before you knife them. Make sure you have a clearly defined boundary and not an arbitrary one that is honestly self-created and being imposed. The best example of this would be Smith and Wesson deal Clinton Administration in 2000.
Many have had a long grudge with Smith and Wesson over that, myself included. However if you refuse to allow a company to recover and learn from its mistakes, your boycott ultimately becomes self-defeating. Smith and Wesson is a huge supporter of the shooting sports and pulled out of the ESOS during that incident.
Being able to bring the positive and the negative is what makes a tool like this most effective. In this case we can only see clearly those who support us, not those against us and the tool should be used as such.
*Alternate title, In which some people will misconstrue my thoughts into something else.
Barron is the owner, editor, and principal author at The Minuteman, a competitive shooter, and staff member for Boomershoot. Even in his free time he’s merging his love and knowledge of computers and technology with his love of firearms.
He has a BS in electrical engineering from Washington State University. Immediately after college he went into work on embedded software and hardware for use in critical infrastructure. This included cryptographic communications equipment as well as command and control devices that were using that communications equipment. Since then he’s worked on just about everything ranging from toys, phones, other critical infrastructure, and even desktop applications. Doing everything from hardware system design, to software architecture, to actually writing software that makes your athletic band do its thing.