COVID-19, Supply Chains, and Firearms Manufacturers

I received an email yesterday afternoon from Kimber. It was detailing the impact of COVID-19 on their operations. Kimber has plants in both Yonkers, New York and Troy, Alabama. If you have spent any time watching the talking heads on TV, you know that New York has overtaken Washington State in the number of coronavirus cases.

Here is part of what was in the email:

Due to the New York state decision to shutter non-essential businesses as part of the COVID-19 response plan, Kimber Mfg. Inc. has stopped production at its New York facilities. 

Production continues at Kimber’s new, state-of-the-art Troy, Alabama manufacturing facility, with the entire line of handguns and long guns being assembled. Due to the large number of parts manufactured in Yonkers and the state mandated closure in New York, the Troy facility will suspend production on March 31st . “This situation is unfortunate as we were off to an incredible start in gun shipments in 2020 and were running our factories seven days a week. We would like to thank our dealers and consumers for their overwhelmingly positive response to our 2020 new products,” said Greg Grogan, Kimber president. With that said, if you are in the market for a Kimber firearm, now is the time to make that purchase.”

Kimber’s Alabama based customer service and repair services remain open to help customers with any questions they may have. In addition, the Alabama based Kimber online store is open and products are shipping as long as inventory lasts. Montana based dealer sales and customer service departments also remain open.

The bottom line is that even though your assembly plant is in an area which only has a relatively small number of coronavirus cases, you are still impacted adversely. Alabama has 531 cases as of today versus New York State with 39,140 cases according to the Johns Hopkins University compilation. Indeed, Westchester County, NY where Yonkers is located has over 10 times as many infections as the entire state of Alabama.

Then there is the whole issue of essential versus non-essential businesses. Some states have said firearms manufacturing would be considered an essential business because it provides tools to the defense industry or to law enforcement. Other states do not consider it essential. Even if you are in a state that considers your production essential, if your subcontractor making critical parts is located in a place that takes the opposite view, you are screwed.

The firearms industry is composed of primarily small businesses. Even the largest companies like Ruger and Smith & Wesson are considered small by comparison to other manufacturers. While the products are flying out the doors now, a mid to long period of enforced closure due to the pandemic is going to hurt.

Very Sad News

I learned yesterday that Kristie, the wife of well-known gun blogger SayUncle, passed away quite unexpectedly. Despite not showing any symptom of heart issues, she went into cardiac arrest on Friday, was later declared brain dead, and per her wishes was taken off of life support on Sunday.

From SayUncle:

On March 20th, my beloved wife and mother of my children, unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest. She had never presented any symptoms prior to then.

On March 21st, her doctor informed me that her brain was no longer functioning and there was no chance of recovery.

On March 22nd, in accordance with her wishes outlined in her living will, I authorized the medical staff to remove life support. She passed away peacefully at 8:48am central time while I held her hand. She will be missed.

March 23rd would have been our 18th anniversary.

In addition to Chance, she leaves a daughter and a son who are both in their teens.

Please pray for SayUncle and his family during this incredibly sad time. All I can say is that it is a tragedy when someone that age passes away so suddenly from natural causes. You just can’t prepare for it.

Tweet Of The Day

The tweet of the day comes from my good friend Prof. David Yamane who writes the excellent Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

As the late Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “A right delayed is a right denied.”

GRNC Alert On Sheriff Baker’s Illegal Actions

Grass Roots North Carolina issued an alert this evening asking people to contact the Wake County Sheriff’s Department concerning the suspension of accepting applications.

From what I understand, GRNC is also considering legal action in light of this violation of state law.

From GRNC:

Sheriff Baker: No Guns for You
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Sheriff Baker is at it again. On Tuesday, March 24th, Baker announced that the Wake County Sheriffs Office will no longer be accepting applications for Pistol Purchase Permits or Concealed Handgun Permits. Under the guise of public safety, he is stripping away the one constitutional right that allows the men and women of North Carolina to keep themselves and their families safe.

Nothing under the NC Emergency Management Act gives the sheriff additional powers to restrict pistol purchase permits or concealed handgun permits during a declared state of emergency. The statute is quite clear that he has 14 days to issue or deny purchase permits, and nothing allows him to deny permits because he feels his office is too inundated with applications.

While some sheriffs have said they don’t want the public health risk of taking fingerprints for new CHPs, nothing should restrict applications for CHP renewals or PPPs.

GRNC will be calling for the repeal of the full Pistol Purchase Permit statute, as this lays bare the real reason sheriffs have lobbied to keep this leftover Jim Crow era law on the books. It gives them the power to arbitrarily deny firearms to citizens.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED!


Email Sheriff Baker at and let him know that his actions are putting lives at risk
: http://services.wakegov.com/SheriffMainContactForm/index.html


Call his office and repeat this message, we cannot let up: 919-856-6900


PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO GRNC
: Help us fight gun control while we promote Second Amendment principles. Please CLICK HERE to contribute. Bear in mind that GRNC is an all-volunteer organization, so you can be sure your donations are put to the best possible use. Any amount helps, and any amount is appreciated.

CONTACT INFO
 
http://services.wakegov.com/SheriffMainContactForm/index.html


919-856-6900

 
DELIVER THIS MESSAGE


Suggested Subject: “Permit Suspension”  

 
Dear : Sheriff Gerald M. Baker

 
Your actions on March 24th are a direct violation of your oath of office, and are not outlined in the NC Emergency Management Act. By law, you must approve or deny permits within 14 days. I call on you to immediately restore services to Wake county for pistol purchase and concealed handgun permits.
 
Respectfully,

Illegal Action By Wake County Sheriff

Sheriff Gerald Baker, Sheriff of Wake County, has unilaterally suspended taking new applications for pistol purchase permits and NC Concealed Handgun Permits through April 30th. Current applications will continue to be processed.

From the News and Observer:

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office will suspend pistol and concealed-carry permit applications until April 30 as demand surges amid the coronavirus outbreak, Sheriff Gerald Baker announced Tuesday.

Applications that have already been submitted will continue to be processed, Baker said during a press briefing.

Pistol permit applications last week averaged 290 per day, or more than three times the roughly 90 applications per day during the same time period a year ago, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Baker said his office needs time to manage the backlog.

WRAL covered the press briefing and you can see it below. Sheriff Baker’s statement regarding pistol purchase permits and NC CHPs begins at the 5:15 mark.

Sheriff Baker has the gall to say that “it is not an emergency situation.” Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) declared a state of emergency days ago. Tons of businesses have been ordered to stay closed. The largest county in North Carolina just issued a shelter in place order and the sheriff of the second largest county says it isn’t an emergency situation. Protecting yourself and your family during a time of crisis is always an emergency situation if you don’t have the means to do it.

While Sheriff Baker may think he has the power to unilaterally suspend taking applications, state law says otherwise.

§ 14-403 of the NC General Statutes says in part:

The sheriffs of any and all counties of this State shall issue to any person, firm, or corporation in any county a permit to purchase or receive any weapon mentioned in this Article from any person, firm, or corporation offering to sell or dispose of the weapon.

§ 14-404. f. goes on to say that the sheriff after doing the requisite background check has a limited time to deny or issue the permit.

Each applicant for a license or permit shall be informed by the sheriff within 14 days of the date of the application whether the license or permit will be granted or denied and, if granted, the license or permit shall be immediately issued to the applicant.

Nothing says a sheriff can suspend taking applications because “we are too busy.”

State Senators Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Danny Britt (R-Robeson) issued a statement condemning Baker’s actions.

State law requires a sheriff to approve or reject a pistol permit within 14 days.

Sheriff Baker must immediately rescind his illegal decision to halt the sale of pistols in Wake County

People are already suspicious and on edge. It’s reckless to illegally suspend their Second Amendment rights just when they need assurance that they can trust government.

We will also be urging our colleagues in the legislature to take action during the short session to address this illegal behavior.

Justice Scalia in the Heller decision noted that “the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon.” Sheriff Baker’s unilateral decision runs afoul of court precedent as well as of black letter North Carolina law.

The NRA-ILA was quick off the mark with an alert about Sheriff Baker’s actions. It can be seen here.

Firearms Industry – Closures and Acquisitions

Just like the rest of American industry, there are changes going on in the firearms industry.

It was announced late last week that the Montana Rifle Company would be closing its doors immediately. They made some very nice higher end bolt action hunting rifles. They had been bought in early 2019 by the Montana Outdoor Group.

From their release on the closure:

“While sales of our popular calibers have been outstanding, production levels have not risen to a profitable level to continue, without additional investments,” CEO Calvin Bontrager explained. “New equipment would be required to reach a service level demanded by our dealers and conservation groups.”


Montana Rifle has been producing custom-grade rifles for nearly 25-years and has been awarded “NRA’s Gun of the Year” in 2016 and “NRA’s Gun of the Year” in 2018. Montana Rifle has also produced limited editions for California Waterfowl, SCI, RMEF, and many other conservation organizations.


“With sales of the popular M1999 control feed actions nearly doubling in 2019, Montana Outdoor Group, is actively searching for restructuring opportunities,” Bontrager continued.

The temporary closures related to COVID-19 are also impacting manufacturing side of the firearms industry.

CZ-USA sent out a message today that production and shipment delays would be the rule for the next 30 days at least. This is due to local and state orders limiting activities which has caused them to close.

CZ-USA operations are subject to an Emergency Order from our local government which forces us to close our facilities in Kansas City, Kansas until at least April 23rd. Likewise, our Dan Wesson Firearms facility in Norwich, NY was closed under similar circumstances late last week due to an order from the state of New York.  


For the next 30 days, production and shipment delays are inevitable. We apologize for the inconvenience we know this will cause — we hold our nation’s Second Amendment rights to be sacred and are very concerned about the impact that emergency orders will have on our customers. We will work diligently to deliver products as soon as legally possible, while maintaining social responsibility and compliance with government orders.

Finally, EOTech has been purchased from L3Harris by American Holoptics LLC.

American Holoptics LLC™, a privately-held U.S. company, has signed a definitive agreement with L3Harris™ to acquire EOTech®.The transaction is expected to close mid-2020 and is conditioned on customary closing conditions. American Holoptics is a subsidiary of Koucar Management, whose strategic acquisitions of Elite Defense® and HEL Technologies™ represent a solid foundation of cutting-edge optical science and weapons systems distribution. The American Holoptics leadership team has an exceptionally broad and deep experience providing high-quality products to the global weapons accessory market. In addition, this team has a proven track record of building customer-first and technology-focused organizations. “We’re proud to sign this agreement to join our team and technology with the EOTech brand,” says Matt Van Haaren, CEO of American Holoptics. “EOTech brings together technologically advanced product lines and production capabilities that will integrate well with our existing business and strategically expand our product portfolio. Together we will deliver an all-new level of service, innovation, and integrity to military, law enforcement and civilian users around the world.” 

Koucar Management is a privately held Michigan-based company that owns companies in a variety of industries including construction, property management, hotels, software, and technology. In the firearms and defense industry realm, they own Elite Defense, American Holoptics, and HEL Technologies. They also own companies like Detroit Taco Company and Cambria Hotels.

The Caning Of Charles Sumner

Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was an ardent abolitionist. On the floor of the Senate in 1856, he made a speech in which he castigated Sen. Andrew Butler of South Carolina over his support for slavery.

Butler was not present when Sumner made his speech but his cousin, Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina, got wind of it. As the Senate’s historian puts it:

Representative Preston Brooks was Butler’s South Carolina kinsman. If he had believed Sumner to be a gentleman, he might have challenged him to a duel. Instead, he chose a light cane of the type used to discipline unruly dogs. Shortly after the Senate had adjourned for the day, Brooks entered the old chamber, where he found Sumner busily attaching his postal frank to copies of his “Crime Against Kansas” speech.

Moving quickly, Brooks slammed his metal-topped cane onto the unsuspecting Sumner’s head. As Brooks struck again and again, Sumner rose and lurched blindly about the chamber, futilely attempting to protect himself. After a very long minute, it ended.

You can see a reenactment of this in the Drunk History video below.

It amused me that the odious Patton Oswalt aka Constable Bob in Justified played Sen. Sumner.

What got me to thinking about the caning of Sen. Sumner was the behavior of the Democrats in the Senate and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Twice now the Senate Democrats have stopped passage of a coronavirus stimulus package. This came after they had worked out the details over the past week with the Republican majority.

Pelosi has larded up her so-called package with more agenda items and less stimulus items that will get people back to work and on their feet. As Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told House Democrats, “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Forgive me for thinking that we need to take a gutta-percha brass-headed cane a’la Preston Brooks to the heads of certain Democrat obstructionists. Of course, I mean this figuratively as voters and not literally. Losing power and the attendant perks would be the worst punishment for most of them.

The actual cane is now on display at the Old State House Museum in Boston.

Fellow Travelers, Useful Idiots, or Both?

Merriam-Webster definition of a fellow traveler:

: a person who sympathizes with and often furthers the ideals and program of an organized group (such as the Communist party) without membership in the group or regular participation in its activities

broadly: a sympathetic supporter of another’s cause

Useful idiot:

In political jargon, a useful idiot is a derogatory term for a person perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause’s goals, and who is cynically used by the cause’s leaders

The Soviet Union made great use of both fellow travelers and useful idiots. This article by John Gray in the British publication New Statesman goes into great detail about them. Fellow travelers willfully ignore the misdeeds of these authoritarian states while praising their successes.

Just like the former Soviet Union, China goes to great lengths to make use of fellow travelers and apologists. They also use their growing economic clout to discourage criticism of their regime, its policies, and its practices. One merely needs to look at how they forced the NBA to kow-tow to them over criticism of their actions in Hong Kong.

It appears now that they are using Democrat politicians like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and former Obama advisor Ben Rhodes to stifle criticism of their response to COVID-19 as the following tweets make clear.

Given the overwhelming evidence that the Chinese Community Party and President Xi Jinping have done everything in their power to cover up their own complicity in the spread of COVID-19, the question remains whether Schiff and Rhodes are fellow travelers, useful idiots, or both.

UPDATE: The New York Times has an excellent interactive graphic showing the spread of COVID-19. It is entitled How the Virus Got Out and is worth watching.

Before the Chinese government imposed travel restrictions, it is estimated that 7 million people can and went from Wuhan which was the epicenter. Let me repeat – 7 million people left Wuhan after the first cases were discovered and thousands upon thousands were already infected.

I Don’t Think That Headline Means What You Think It Means

The online version of Newsweek magazine had the most misleading headline ever related to the recent panic buying of firearms. Since I don’t think merely quoting it does it justice, here is a screen shot of it.

Do they mean gun rights advocacy groups like the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, the Firearms Policy Coaliton, or one of the many state-level groups?

Umm. No.

Once you start reading the article you come across comments from these “gun advocacy” luminaries.

“Fear has been the motivation for much of the increases in firearms purchases,” David Chipman, Senior Policy Advisor for gun control advocate group Giffords, told Newsweek.

“A small percentage of the marketing to gun owners has been to encourage preparation for end times scenarios and zombie apocalypses.”

Chipman said the country’s current gun laws allow people to hoard weapons in the same way they are able to mass buy toilet paper.

Chipman, of the Cult of Personality Known As Giffords, goes on to say he is a gun owner himself. Of course he is.

Not to be out done is this advocate is the co-president of Brady United.

Kris Brown, President of the Brady gun control campaign group, also said she is “very fearful” that the number of friendly fire incidents involving children could also dramatically increase as millions of children who are not currently at school will be present in their homes with these new weapons.

Brown said the feeling of short term security and safety that is provided by purchasing a weapon is masking the actual risk that will be dramatically increased.

“I understand in any time of crisis there is fear, the desire to do something to try and create a sense of security, and safety is paramount. The same instinct as fight or flight is what’s kicking in here,” she told Newsweek.

“The reality is the purchase of a gun is actually going right into harm’s way.”

It’s always “for the children” with them.

Last but not least is that “stay at home mom of five” and former corporate PR flack Shannon Watts herself.

“Right now, there’s no question that everyone is worried about their family’s safety. We know there are risks associated with having a gun in the home, especially when kids are involved, which is why responsible gun owners store their guns locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition.”

Watts added the presence of guns in a house also increases the risks of suicide and domestic violence.

“The NRA has spent decades selling a myth that more guns make us safer, but if that were true, the U.S. would be the safest nation on earth,” she said. “Instead, we have a gun homicide rate that’s 25 times higher than the average of other developed nations.”

Watts suggested if people truly want to protect their families during these unsettled times, they should “wash their hands and lock up their guns.”

While I can’t disagree with Mrs. Watts on the importance of hand washing, the rest of her statement is all too typical of her.

The best thing I can say about that headline is that they didn’t characterize these gun prohibitionists as “gun safety groups”. Indeed, the author of this article specifically refers to both Giffords and Brady as “gun control advocate” or “gun control campaign” groups.

Kind Of Shocking That They Sought An Indictment

I subscribe to press releases from various BATFE Field Divisions. I got one from the Chicago Field Division yesterday that kind of shocked me.

They actually sought an indictment against someone for lying on the Form 4473 and facilitating a straw purchase.

Matthew D. Krueger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Hanna N. DeCicco (age 22) of Milwaukee with Making a False Statement to a Federal Firearms Dealer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(a)(6) and 924(a)(2) on July 10, 2019.

DeCicco is charged with one count of being a straw purchaser of firearm. She knowningly made a false and fictitious that she was the actual buyer of the firearm, when in fact, she was acquiring the firearm for someone else. DeCicco faces a maximum of ten years of imprisonment, three years of supervised released, and a $250,000 fine. 

This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals responsible for violent crimes in our neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods’ strategy brings together all levels of law enforcement and community resources to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life in all our neighborhoods.

Do you know how rare something like that actually is? It is usually near the bottom of a Federal prosecutor’s agenda. At least it was during the Obama years.

This NPR report from 2015 noted that straw buyers were rarely prosecuted.

Many licensed gun dealers are concerned that straw purchasers are rarely prosecuted, says Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The law says that somebody could go to jail for up to 10 years and face a fine of up to $250,000. Why that doesn’t happen more often is a question for, you know, the federal judiciary and the Department of Justice,” Keane says.

Bouchard, who retired from the ATF in 2007, admits charging straw buyers falls towards the bottom of federal prosecutors’ priority lists. He says the cases are difficult to win and resources are limited.

However, that has started to change as the Trump Administration has decided not to ignore those crimes. In the last year of the Obama Administration, only 111 people were charged with false statements on the Form 4473. By contrast, in the first seven months of FY 2019, the Department of Justice had already charge 167 people with making false statements.

The number is still low in comparison to the other Federal prosecutions involving weapons but it is on the rise. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with going after straw purchasers.

As an aside, Ms. DeCicco needs to clean her Facebook page up. An Assistant US Attorney is going to love this comment from December.

Somebody’s gonna take these games to far & end up gettin popped.