The New York Times isn’t exactly a place you go to get advice for the firearm industry. After all, most of its reporters have never seen a firearm outside of a police officer’s holster, much less fired one. With that in mind, just how in the hell would it have any real, useful, and meaningful advice for anyone in the firearm industry.
Well, it seems that someone there thinks they know how to fix the entire industry, and they’re hoping a group of banks will step in and buy Remington to implement some of the dumbest ideas out there.
Remington Outdoor, one of the country’s oldest and largest gun makers, is getting ready to emerge from bankruptcy.
The question is whether somebody — anybody — will buy the company, especially at such a politically and emotionally polarized time for the gun industry.
The usual suspects of potential buyers are circling, including rival gun manufacturers like Sturm, Ruger & Company and some small financiers willing to accept whatever criticism would come from buying Remington.
More tantalizing is a pie-in-the-sky idea: whether a beneficent billionaire, like Michael R. Bloomberg, could buy the company and either try to transform it or shut it down — a sort of philanthropic euthanasia in the name of gun control.
While this isn’t exactly the smartest use of someone’s money, it’s not exactly as dumb as it gets. I could see Bloomberg doing something just like that, and while it wouldn’t be a win for the gun industry, we’d move past it soon enough. Someone else would pick up Remington’s market share, and the industry would soldier along.
But then the real derp starts to fly.
Yet all of those options have challenges. So here’s a practical idea that should be considered more than just a thought experiment:
What if the big banks that have provided financing to Remington during its bankruptcy were to back — and partner with — one or more of the big private equity firms in an effort to transform the company into the most advanced and responsible gun manufacturer in the country?
And they would not be out to kill the business; quite the opposite: They could create a profitable model for the rest of the industry using technology and sound sales policies to reinvent the modern-gun manufacturer.
A reimagined Remington with a new management and mandate could develop smart-gun technology. It could back fingerprint technology meant to prevent anyone who is not the gun’s owner from shooting it, a measure that could greatly reduce suicides and the potential for guns to be stolen. It could add an identity stamp to ammunition fired from any of its guns. It could also establish and standardize responsible sales policies for retailers to sell its firearms.
What would happen, for instance, if a consortium were to come together so that the banks offered the buyer a below-market loan, giving a socially responsible investor the advantage of a lower cost of capital? What would happen if one of the big retail chains like Walmart and Dick’s — both of which have already established that they only want to sell guns in a responsible way — were to guarantee distribution, sales and marketing support?
Oh, that’s simple.
NO ONE WOULD BUY THE BLASTED THINGS!
Smart gun technology has been blocked by gun rights activists, not because we don’t support responsibility, but because the technology can result in people dying. Technology fails, for one thing. Who wants to be weeping at a funeral because someone didn’t realize they needed to replace the battery in their gun?
For another, I may not be the one needing to shoot my gun. What if I’m not at home and someone tries to break into my home? Is my wife supposed to let horrible things happen just because someone decided we need smart guns instead of what we already know works?
And smart guns won’t reduce suicides. It won’t. Many people who commit suicide do so with their firearm or a firearm they’re authorized to use. In other words, they’ll be able to “unlock” the smart gun.
Let’s be clear, if there were a legitimate market for smart guns, companies would be developing it. Glock, H&K, and Sig Sauer are all companies based outside of the United States with sizeable markets outside of the U.S. They could easily decide to develop smart guns, and even if the American market dried up because of that, they’d be fine.
But they’re not, and they’re not because no one wants to buy the damn things.
You see, the New York Times doesn’t understand how business works. The gun industry isn’t the “Field of Dreams.” If you build it, people aren’t going to come. There’s not some silent majority desperately waiting for smart guns to become a thing, so developing technology that no one wants isn’t going to change the landscape of the industry.
It’s going to put Remington out of business forever.
Maybe that’s an acceptable end result for this writer. I’m pretty sure it is.
But it’s hilarious to see someone who most likely has never even fired a gun, much less follow the industry like we do, offer advice on just how to bring Remington back from the brink. Of course, that advice would actually run the company into the ground.