Heckler & Koch make some fine quality firearms. Few people disagree with that statement. However, many of us in the gun community have wondered if they actually give a flying flip about civilian gun owners. A buddy of mine once referred to them as the most anti-gun owner gun company in the world.
I don’t know that I’d go that far, but I will say that for a company that’s wanting a bigger chunk of U.S. market share, the latest move by the company might not be the way to go.
Heckler & Koch, the German weapons manufacturer whose guns are estimated to have killed more than 2 million people since the company was founded in 1949, has quietly adopted the most ethical sales policy of any gunmaker in the world.
The company has pledged no longer to sell arms into warzones or to countries that violate corruption and democracy standards, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, or any African countries.
Though never officially announced, the new strategy was included in Heckler & Koch’s latest yearly financial report, and confirmed at an annual general meeting in August. A spokesman said that the firm had “withdrawn from the crisis regions of this world”.
Heckler & Koch – sometimes called Germany’s deadliest company by activists – said it would now sell only to “green countries,” which it defined according to three criteria: membership of Nato or “Nato-equivalent” (Japan, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand); Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index; and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s democracy index.
Look, almost no one gives a damn if H&K refuses to sell to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Indonesia. No one really cares if they refuse to sell to any nation in Africa.
Yet American gun owners, the very people who create the U.S. civilian market that H&K supposed wants deeper penetration into, are typically conservative politically and tend to stand behind Israel. The idea of cutting off the West’s one faithful ally in a deeply troubled region won’t sit well with many in the firearms community.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Israelis are losing sleep over this announcement. They have local companies that make pretty good weapons as it is. (Disclosure: I lust for a Tavor.) The lack of H&K firearms is probably not going to have much of an impact on Israel as a nation.
That’s not the point for many, however. Instead, they see it as a tacit endorsement of the left’s anti-Israeli rhetoric which presents the state as a rogue actor and oppressor of innocent Palestinians who do nothing wrong. Those rockets that fly out of Palestine are irrelevant, as are the countless terrorist attacks Israel has endured through the years.
The reality that H&K would do well to accept is that American gun owners, as a general rule, stand with Israel. If they want to eat deeper into a market dominated by companies like Smith & Wesson and Glock, it’s probably not a good idea to alienate that market by refusing to sell guns to a country that has that market’s support.