Gunmaker Faces Backlash After Vaccine Rant

The owner and president of North American Arms is apologizing for a rant posted on the company’s website that called out those Americans who refuse to get vaccinated, calling them “ignorant, misguided &/or selfish” and admitting to enjoying “no small measure of schadenfreude reading stories of those stubborn people who find themselves stricken and on death’s door.”

Sandy Chisholm, who runs the Utah-based gun company specializing in small pistols and revolvers, apparently posts a “Sandy’s Soapbox” column on the company’s website every month. Generally the posts receive very little attention, and for several weeks after Chisholm’s rant about the unvaccinated went live, it too flew under most folks’ radar. After the website The Gun Feed posted a full transcript of Chisholm’s column a few days ago, however, the backlash from gun owners to comments like these was inevitable.

I’ll admit I enjoy no small measure of schadenfreude reading stories of those stubborn people who find themselves stricken and on death’s door, suffering from their earlier foolish decision not to get vaccinated.  I look at it almost as a Darwinian effect, helping cleanse our gene pool.  Excuse my lack of sympathy.  Too bad.  Completely avoidable.  Didn’t have to happen.

I know that this is one of my more controversial and likely to be one of my least popular rants.  I take this personally.  There are individuals in my own family who are the subject of my (heretofore silent) disdain, as well as several other friends, as well as people on my team at NAA, people who I otherwise respect and whose company enjoy.  Not so much so now.

I acknowledge that it’s your decision to make but, I’ll admit, I don’t have much regard for those who lack any sense or moral obligation to the greater community – and to there own friends and loved one whose health and safety they so cavalierly threaten.

It sounded like Chisholm was aware at the time he posted his column that he was making some pretty controversial statements that could cause waves among gun owners. After the backlash began, however, Chisholm’s post disappeared from the company’s website, and Chisholm soon had a follow up column in place.

I am very sorry about some of the things I said, and not at all sorry about most others.  I am very sorry about the harsh language I used in an attempt to make a point.  I strongly believe in the point about promoting vaccinations, but I am very disappointed in myself for the unnecessarily inflammatory words I used in an attempt to make it and the disrespect it showed.  How I expressed myself was rude and embarrassing.  What hurts most is the respect I’ve deservedly lost amongst so many.  I’ve spent the past 30 years attempting to earn it, and I understand the reaction from those who felt insulted by some of the language of my rant.  I knew at the outset that I risked alienating some, to the degree that it would cost NAA some sales.  That’s OK.   I applaud those who express themselves with their wallet; I’ve done the same.  But I am very sorry to those I insulted.  It was unforgivable and I am profoundly sorry.  I was rude and I apologize.

If Chisholm had stopped there, this story might have faded away. Might have. Probably not, given his original language, but there was a chance. Instead, though, he delivered this:

I’m not at all sorry about the debate between the exercise of individual freedoms, which I embrace, and personal/societal responsibility which I believe in.  While I believe in freedom of speech, I understand, too, that I am constrained from yelling “Fire” in a crowded movie theater.  While I believe in freedom of behavior, including swinging my fists freely, that freedom ends when my body is in close proximity to another.  If you want to stand naked in the rain, knock yourself out, but if you want to do something that increases a threat to someone other than yourself, that’s a different matter.  I believe in freedom but freedom is not without its limits.  My views notwithstanding, you should note that I have not attempted to create a vaccination mandate at NAA.  People who suggest that I don’t understand or appreciate individual freedoms are simply wrong.

Chisholm’s statement about not imposing a vaccine mandate on the employees of North American Arms is interesting, and if he had highlighted that fact in his original post, it… well, it probably would have still ticked off a lot of the people that read it. Look, Chisholm himself admitted that he held unvaccinated Americans in “contempt.” It’s hard to walk that back with an apology, but it is worth noting that Chisholm apparently decided to forgo a vaccine mandate for North American Arms employees even before he issued his attempted mea culpa.

Where Chisholm’s attempted apology goes off the rails (for me, anyway) is his defense of limitations on liberty. Does he not realize that gun control activists make this exact same argument all the time; that your right to keep and bear arms shouldn’t exist because it “increases a threat to someone other than yourself”? Chisholm seems to be embracing a definition of “freedom” that would allow for the restrictions on all kinds of individual liberties in the name of the greater good, including the ability to lawfully own his own products. He may not have imposed a vaccine mandate on his employees, but it sure sounds to me that in the debate between the exercise of individual freedoms and personal/societal responsibility, Chisholm is siding with the idea of vaccine mandates over the right to opt-out, while providing aid and comfort to the activists that want to destroy the right to keep and bear arms.

So, I’m not sure how much good this apology is going to do. And honestly, I’m still struggling to figure out why Chisholm thought his original column was a good idea in the first place. An angry and unhinged screed about finding happiness when the unvaccinated become seriously ill or die from COVID-19 isn’t a good look for any company head, but it’s especially jarring coming from someone in an industry that places great importance on individual freedom.

No offense to Sandy Chisholm, but I doubt that anybody really cared what he thought about vaccines until he decided to label those who haven’t received a shot “ignorant” and worthy of disdain and contempt. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion*, but he shouldn’t be shocked by the outpouring of opposition he’s received since his column was brought to light, nor should he expect it to disappear solely because he’s issued an apology.




*For what it’s worth, I too am fully vaccinated, and while I encourage others to do the same, I’m not going to take it personally or become enraged at the thought of people passing on the shot. I’ve never believed that my personal safety is contingent on the actions of others. That’s why I carry a firearm for self-defense, and it’s one of the main reasons why I decided to get the vaccine along with my immuno-compromised wife back in the spring. I’m responsible for my own safety and the safety of my family, whether we’re talking about a carjacker or a home invader or a virus that poses a significant danger to someone I love. But that’s my decision, and in a free society I believe you must have the right to decide differently if you so choose.