Frank Miniter

Gun-Control Drives Beretta Out of Maryland

Beretta U.S.A. Corp., is leaving Accokeek, Maryland. Beretta announced they’re moving to a new facility being built in Gallatin, Tennessee. This move will take 300 jobs out of Maryland. Beretta initially said it would only use its Tennessee facility to make new products, but now Jeff Cooper, general manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp., says, “While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility.”

Beretta first announced it was building the new facility in Tennessee after Maryland passed the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a gun-control bill that bans many semiautomatic rifles, bans gun magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds and that burdens gun owners with many other restrictions.

Beretta’s leadership has been very vocal about how new gun-control laws might force them from the state. The version of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 that first passed the Maryland Senate would have pushed them out even sooner. The Senate’s version of the bill would have prohibited Beretta from manufacturing, storing or even importing into the state products it sells to customers throughout the U.S. After informing the Maryland House of Delegates that the law, if passed unchanged, would immediately drive them out of Maryland, some of law’s provisions were cut from the bill.

Nevertheless, Cooper says, “[T]he possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the state.”

Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.

America’s Largest Shotgun Maker Shifts More Jobs to Texas

mossberg shotAmerica’s largest shotgun manufacturer, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., decided not to expand in Connecticut. Sure it was founded there 1919 and still has its corporate headquarters in North Haven. But in 2013 Connecticut rushed through legislation to ban some of Mossberg’s popular products. As a result, Mossberg CEO, Iver Mossberg, says, “Investing in Texas was an easy decision. It’s a state that is not only committed to economic growth but also honors and respects the Second Amendment and the firearm freedoms it guarantees for our customers.”

Mossberg has instead expanded its Maverick Arms, Inc. facility in Eagle Pass, Texas, with 116,000 new square-feet of factory space. Mossberg is not a small gun manufacturer. According to records kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Mossberg made 475,364 guns in America in 2011. Of those guns, a total of 423,570 were shotguns made for sportsmen, for shotgun sports enthusiasts, for law-enforcement and for people who want a shotgun to protect their homes and families.

More than 90 percent of Mossberg’s guns are now made in Texas. Some of its Connecticut jobs are going there, too. Tom Taylor, O.F. Mossberg & Sons

senior vice president, sales & marketing, tells me, “We’re moving all wood gun stock production to our Texas facility. More of our product lines—like our modern sporting rifles—might move to Texas in the future. Texas has been very good to us. Also, our gun sales have been so dynamic over the last number of years. We’ve outgrown our facilities. This major expansion will help us keep up with demand.”

Mossberg is America’s oldest family owned and operated firearms manufacturer. It’s also the largest pump-action shotgun manufacturer in the world. Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) has been aggressively coaxing them to bring even more jobs to Texas—Mossberg has been making guns there since 1989. Perry has been seducing them with the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), the state’s low taxes, simpler regulations and a skilled workforce.

Governor Perry says, “This TEF investment in Maverick Arms will help create jobs and opportunity in Eagle Pass, while reaffirming Texas’ longstanding support of the Second Amendment.”

Contrast Governor Perry’s support with what Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy (D) said a few days after signing a massive gun-control bill in 2013 and it’s obvious which climate is more business friendly. On an appearance on CNN’s show “State of the Union,” Governor Malloy said, “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible—even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background. They don’t care. They want to sell guns.”

Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com

The American Longrifle Has A Censored But Very Patriotic Story To Tell

FM flintlocksmallOn this Independence Day it’s worth hearing how the American Longrifle helped win the battle for American freedom. If you don’t know this rifle’s starring role in American history you can’t understand America’s link to the gun or why so many firearms manufacturers are moving or expanding away from states that have banned their products.

For this history lesson I stopped in to see Phil Schreier, the senior curator for the NRA’s National Firearms Museum, in Fairfax, VA. As we stood in the middle of the biggest gun museum in all the world he told me, “If school kids were just taught that the ‘shot heard round the world’ was fired through an American-forged and rifled barrel they might know a damn thing about American ingenuity and how we really won our freedom. That way they might just have a clue what our freedom is all about.”

Before I could ask him to explain all that, he said, “School kids—hell, even the adults—often don’t even know what the British were after. The Redcoats were coming to seize a weapon’s depot. They were coming for the peoples’ guns. They wanted to disarm the colonists before a rebellion began.”

Phil pointed to a flintlock rifle and said, “This just might be the gun that fired the shot heard round the world. It’s from that period and region. It was the type of muzzle-loading rifle many of the colonists had.”

I looked from Phil to this old flintlock rifle and the connection between guns and freedom became as vivid as burned black powder.

Click here to see the rest of my column at Forbes.com.

The 21 Rules that Built Crimson Trace

When something handwritten is framed and tacked to a wall it has a bigger significance than a mere photo. When that something is a numbered list, you want to know what made the list. When the handwritten list is on the wall of a business leader you’ve long respected, a man who founded and grew a company into a trendsetter, you want the whole story.

When I ask about the framed list Lew Danielson’s eyes glisten as he says, “Oh, that’s the foundation of our success.”

He stands and takes the frame off the wall. We’re in his office in Wilsonville, Oregon, located in an industrial park of one-story buildings not far from Portland. Lew is the founder and chairman of the board of Crimson Trace, the preeminent maker of laser sighting systems for firearms used for personal protection. His company has long been at the forefront of pushing gun accessories into the future. He says as he hands the framed list to me: “This got us where we are today.”

There are two handwritten lists on the sheet of notebook paper. They are written in black ink on a sheet of paper torn from a legal pad in 1994. He tells me he used to read these aloud with his business partners—mostly engineers—every morning. Small edits show it was tweaked and added to until they thought it perfect. So perfect, he says, they got so they could say the numbered lists without the piece of now crinkled and smudged paper. When that happened Lew put the lists in a frame and tacked it on the wall.

Click here for the rest of my column at Forbes.com.

Heller is Still Fighting

supreme courtJust after midnight, Dick Anthony Heller steps into a back room in a federal building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. He takes off his holster and revolver. A video camera’s unblinking eye watches as he places the Smith & Wesson in a locker in the government building he protects 40 hours per week.

When the weather is warm and clear, Heller has his bicycle waiting. In the colder months he has his car. Even though he lives nearby, he never walks home—not anymore. He is in his 70s now. And in this neighborhood, only two blocks from the capitol, people have been mugged and beaten on the streets. That’s why he must drive his car or ride his bike—to avoid them.

He has to be extra cautious because anyone who might want to mug him knows he can’t be legally armed—not on these streets. So although he carries a gun to protect government officials and property while on duty, the D.C. government won’t allow him to carry one for his own defense.

Even worse, he can’t do that despite the fact that a few years ago he went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and won!

“At least I’m a guy,” Heller told me in a recent interview. “If I were a woman, I wouldn’t be able to keep this job. Getting off work late at night in the neighborhood I work in would be too risky. It’s these basic human rights we’re still trying to win back in our nation’s capital.”

That is why Heller is again a plaintiff in a lawsuit moving through the federal court system. This case, backed by the National Rifle Association, has been dubbed “Heller II.” It was filed not long after the U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that the Second Amendment protects an “individual” right. The Heller decision also ruled that D.C.’s outright ban on handguns, as well as regulations requiring that all firearms—including rifles and shotguns—be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock,” was unconstitutional.

Click here to read the rest of the article in America’s 1st Freedom magazine.

 

America’s Oldest Gun Maker Thumbs Its Nose at a Two-Faced Senator

Remington Arms SignSenator Charles Schumer (D-NY) lost his “assault weapons” jobs. Remington Outdoor Company (ROC) announced it’s moving its Bushmaster rifle and Remington Model 1911 pistol production lines from its nearly 200-year-old plant in Ilion, New York, to its new facility in much more gun-rights-friendly Huntsville, Alabama.

In March of 2011 Senator Schumer put a press release on his website boasting: “Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined Remington officials and plant employees to announce that Bushmaster Firearms is relocating a manufacturing facility from Windham, Maine to Ilion, NY, bringing over forty new jobs to Central New York in the process. Schumer has been a long-time supporter of manufacturing at the Remington plant, urging top Army officials to open up competition for the Army’s small arms contracts to other U.S. manufacturers and domestic producers across the country like the Ilion, New York-based Remington. Today, Schumer applauded Remington’s decision to add new jobs to the productive and capable work force already making the factory an economic powerhouse in the Mohawk Valley.”

Bushmaster makes AR-15s. These are the same semiautomatic rifles Schumer calls “assault weapons” and wants to ban nationally. On CBS’ show “Face the Nation” on December 16, 2012, Schumer said we need to “reinstate the assault-weapons ban.” He said this knowing he’d never be challenged for hypocrisy by Bob Schieffer or any other mainstream news journalist. He knows such journalists mostly support him, but he also knows they don’t have a clue about this issue.

Click here to read the rest of my article at Forbes.com.

As Many as One Million Armed New Yorkers are About to Break the Law

f.miniter shooting Remington sniper rifleThis year April 15 is more than the tax deadline for an estimated one million New York State residents. It’s also the deadline to register “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines. If they don’t, they’ll begin living outside the law. A lot of them have decided to do just that. They’ve decided to practice civil disobedience even though failure to register an “assault weapon” by the deadline is punishable as a “class A misdemeanor,” which means a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

I put “assault weapon” and “high-capacity” in quotes because their definitions vary by state—they’re political terms. In New York State, the SAFE Act passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January 2013, uses an expansive and elaborate definition of “assault weapon” that includes a lot more than AR-15s. Now even a semiautomatic Remington Model 1100 shotgun—a popular shotgun first made in 1963 that is used by millions of hunters and skeet shooters—is an “assault weapon” in New York State if the shotgun has a pistol grip. Many other commonly owned pistols, shotguns and rifles are also now labeled “assault weapons” in New York State.

When I asked the New York State Police how many New York gun owners had registered the guns they own that now fit somewhere into the state’s expansive “assault weapons” category the state responded: “New York State Police cannot release information related to the registration of assault weapons including the number of assault weapons registered. Those records you seek are derived from information collected for the State Police database and are, therefore, exempt from disclosure.”

This is the same dilemma Connecticut gun owners found themselves in at the end of 2013. As of December 31, 2013, according to Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police (CSP), the state had received 41,347 applications to register “assault weapons” and 36,932 applications to register “high-capacity” magazines. That means that more than 300,000 Connecticut residents decided not to register their “assault weapons,” moved them out of state, or sold them.

The numbers of gun owners who might still have “assault weapons” in New York and Connecticut are not guesses. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers, estimates there are likely 350,000 residents of Connecticut who had now banned “assault weapons” as of late 2013. The NSSF says, “The 350,000 number is a conservative estimate based on numerous surveys, consumer purchases, NICS background check data and also private-party transactions.” The NSSF used the same criteria to estimate that at least one million New York residents had “assault weapons” the state banned the sale of and demanded that owners register with the police.

Click here to read the rest of my article at Forbes.com.

On Manly Chores

I just finished another book. It’s titled “The Future of the Gun” and it’ll be in bookstores this August. That felt very satisfying. But then this morning my truck battery died. I had to find my electric charger, start the truck, and then buy and replace the battery. That took just a few minutes, but in a way was also very satisfying. After a long winter inside writing there’s just nothing like a simple, manly chore you can see the results in when you’re done. Being manly can really be that simple. Maybe it’s the proof you have the skills, the know-how to be a man. As that old Canadian television comedy “The Red and Green Show” used to advise men: “If the ladies don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

A Man Lives in the Throes of the Arena

roosOn April 23, 1910 Theodore Roosevelt gave his “Man in the Arena” speech in Paris, France. Here is a section of that speech that is especially relevant for today’s leaders.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who “but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.

Defining Away the First Amendment

Remington Typewriter2The Obama administration wants pass a media shield law that would protect only “covered journalists.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he has the votes to advance it in the Senate. The legislation defines an “approved journalist” as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information. The government would then presumably have to define a new organization that disseminates news or information—would a blog count?

What’s scary about this is the “press” hasn’t historically been granted rights that are not held by every American for a number of fundamental reasons. No court has established a definition of “press” that defines it as specially protected class. Of course, any differentiation between the press and the people that was once even vaguely definable has since been further blurred by blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media sites. As far back as Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938), Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes defined the press as “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” This includes everything from newspapers to blogs to WikiLeaks. As journalist A.J. Liebling (1904-1963) famously quipped, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Today, we all own one.

This is because the only way to decide who qualifies as “press” would be for the government to license the media just like it give press badges for access to the White House. If such an unconstitutional thing were to occur, then the media could go around and haughtily flash their official media badges like a bunch of Junior G-men while the rest of us would be second-class citizens. Though amusing, this is a frightening concept, as government media licenses (or a list of government “approved journalists”) would allow politicians to decide who gets to interview them, who gets to write about them, and who is permitted to opine about them and their policies. Such government control of the press could never be compatible with First Amendment protections. This is why the people are the press.



[1] A.J. Liebling, “Do you belong in journalism?,” The New Yorker, May 14, 1960.