Remington's Rumored Sale To Navajo Nation Could Spell Big Changes For Company

Remington's Rumored Sale To Navajo Nation Could Spell Big Changes For Company

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that firearms industry giant Remington is likely to enter into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the next few days, and is in discussions with the Navajo Nation to purchase the iconic brand. If that happens, there’ll likely be some big changes coming, starting with an end to all AR-style products, at least for the consumer market.

Back in 2018, as the company was last emerging from bankruptcy, the Navajo Nation offered to buy Remington for somewhere around $500-million. The company rejected the offer at the time, but now they appear to be willing to make a deal. Two years ago, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin detailed the changes that the Navajo Nation planned on making if it was able to complete the purchase.

The Navajo Nation’s plan for Remington was novel: It intended to shift the company away from its consumer business, including curtailing the sale of the AR-15-style weapons frequently used in mass shootings, to focus on police and defense contracts.

The tribe planned to use profits from those businesses to invest in research and development of advanced “smart guns” — those with fingerprint or other technology intended to prevent anyone but the gun’s owner from using the weapon. Smart guns have so far failed to make much headway at the major gun manufacturers, which have faced pressure from groups like the National Rifle Association…

The only guns the Navajo Nation planned to sell to consumers were long guns like rifles and shotguns used by hunters.

“Navajo is a community of veterans and people of the land,” the tribe’s lawyer, Drew Ryce, said in an email. “We are indifferent to the AR-15 and happy to leave that business behind.”

A lot’s changed in the past two years. In 2018, Andrew Ross Sorkin glowingly endorsed the idea of the Navajo Nation using the proceeds of military and law enforcement sales to pursue smart gun technology. While I’m sure many anti-gun activists will cheer if the Navajo Nation does end up buying Remington, what do you think the reaction from the defund police movement will be when the tribe says it plans on making its money back by selling AR-15’s and fully automatic rifles to law enforcement and military? I can’t imagine that will go over well, even if some of the profits are spent trying to develop a so-called smart gun that can be brought to market.
Then there’s the fact that many gun owners would simply choose to spend their dollars elsewhere, rather than support a company that doesn’t believe the most commonly sold rifle in the country today is protected by the Second Amendment. If a Navajo-owned Remington fully embraces the push for a “smart gun,” that would likely pose additional problems for company, both politically and technologically speaking.
There’s no real insurmountable hurdle over coming up with the technology behind a smart gun, which can be broadly defined as a firearm that only works for authorized users. The tech is there, but its not exactly feasible for the vast majority of people who want to use a firearm for self-defense. Generally speaking, smart guns work by either reading an authorized user’s fingerprints, or through the pairing of an RFID-equipped wearable device like a watch or a ring.
Both techs come with real-world problems built in, however. What happens if you’re wearing a glove when you have to draw your firearm in defense on a cold winter’s night? What happens if your palms are sweaty with fear, or it’s raining and the fingerprint reader doesn’t work? What happens if you have to shoot off-hand, and the RFID reader can’t lock on your wearable? What happens if the batteries die?
The reason why there hasn’t been a push for smart guns from anyone other than gun control advocates is simple: smart guns increase the chances that something can go wrong with your firearm when you need it most. Gun owners may already have their gun jam or misfire, but smart gun technology just adds one more thing that could go wrong. If you’re plinking at the range that may not be a big deal. If you’re defending your life you want to know your gun’s not going to turn into an expensive paperweight when you need it most.
Because of the push to mandate smart guns, the idea suffers from more than just technological shortcomings. Gun owners don’t object to the idea of smart guns in theory, but absolutely are opposed to any attempts to make them the only type of firearm available for sale, as gun control advocates desire.
Perhaps the Navajo Nation’s business model has changed over the past two years, but if it hasn’t and the deal with Remington goes through, the nation’s leaders should expect pushback from both the Left and the Right over their plans to equip the military and police with AR-15’s and automatic rifles, all while pushing ending the sale of modern sporting rifles to civilians and offering “smart guns” in their stead. On Thursday, for example, The Nation ran an entire story dedicated to the idea of disarming the police. Here’s a taste:

Over 90 percent of London’s Metropolitan Police, whose creation in 1829 is regarded as the model for America’s professional forces, remains unarmed. While police brutality can kill even without a gun, the extreme rarity of police shootings in Britain should give Americans pause. As should the reality—no mere utopian dream—of a huge, economically polarized, multicultural city where policing remains by consent rather than by superior firepower.

Addressing the epidemic of US gun violence will require confronting our culture, with its glorification of violence, and our history of colonial depredations. But we have to start somewhere. Why not seize this moment to remove the daily threat of death by police that haunts African Americans and their families? Why not remove one factor from the brutal calculus of ordinary American violence? Let’s act—not just to save money but also to save lives—and disarm the police.

I’m not sure where the Navajo Nation stands in the intersectional hierarchy, but I’m guessing that if many on the Left are calling for disarming the police, the Navajos won’t find themselves immune from criticism for wanting to equip them with what gun control advocates claim are “battlefield weapons of war.” I can hear it now: Why do the Navajos want to militarize law enforcement agencies? Why does the Navajo Nation want to profit off of police violence? Why is the nation selling weapons that only further U.S. imperialism?

In today’s hyper-political and super-polarized environment, I don’t see this ending well for the Navajo Nation. Maybe they’ll be able to bring some badly-needed employment to the tribal lands, but if they find themselves in the position of not being woke enough for the Left, and too anti-gun for gun owners, I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where that leads to increased sales and long-term viability. And if the leaders did decide not to sell to military and law enforcement after all, they can probably avoid criticism from the Left, but they’ll lose the major source of their expected process. If the Navajo Nation does acquire Remington, it may turn out to be the best example of Get Woke, Go Broke we’ve seen yet.