Analysis Of The Brady Campaign’s Strategy Concerning The Private Sector And Guns

Herschel Smith · 20 May 2018 · 11 Comments

We've been addressing the issue of a new front in the war on guns, specifically as it relates both to gun manufacturers being squeezed by banks and shareholder actions concerning gun companies.  It's tempting to see this as a spurious set of events.  The anti-gun lobby sees something that happens to garner attention, and decides to do it again to see if it garners the same attention or effect. It's not spurious.  This is all part of a coordinated strategy within the gun controller…… [read more]

Response From Ruger CEO

BY Herschel Smith
2 months ago

This note was sent to me from the Ruger CEO upon sharing recent articles here at TCJ on Ruger and its future.

Mr. Smith – There will be No Changes to What Ruger Makes and Sells to Law Abiding Citizens, Despite Shareholder Proposal.

Please understand that Ruger was obligated by applicable law to include a shareholder’s activist resolution with its proxy materials for a shareholder vote. With its passage, the proposal requires Ruger to prepare a report. That’s it. A report. What the proposal does not do . . . and cannot do . . . is force us to change our business, which is lawful and constitutionally protected. What it does not do . . . and cannot do . . . is force us to adopt misguided principles created by groups who do not own guns, know nothing about our business, and frankly would rather see us out of business. As our I explained, “we are Americans who work together to produce rugged, reliable, innovative and affordable firearms for responsible citizens. We are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment not because we make firearms, but because we cherish the rights conferred by it. We understand the importance of those rights and, as importantly, recognize that allowing our constitutionally protected freedoms to be eroded for the sake of political expediency is the wrong approach for our Company, for our industry, for our customers, and for our country. We are arms makers for responsible citizens and I want to assure our long-term shareholders and loyal customers that we have no intention of changing that.”

Please see www.Ruger.com/Brand for a video that shows who we are and who we will continue to be.

Thank you for your support.
Chris Killoy
Ruger CEO

Thank you kindly for your quick response, Mr. Killoy.  I wish you and Ruger well in these perilous times.

However, this seems like “boilerplate language” to me, motherhood and apple pie, and it seems to me that the shareholders can do a great many things, including making hiring and firing decisions, changing business models and plans, and other disruptive sorts of mischief.

You seem determined and I like determination, but unless you or the Ruger family or employees own a controlling interest in Ruger, this sort of thing can indeed happen.

All I’m recommending is that y’all carefully consider my wording and act accordingly.  Controlling interest.

Analysis Of Ruger Shareholder Vote

BY Herschel Smith
2 months ago

I had lamented earlier that I hadn’t seen any good analyses on how many shareholders voted on what, the breakdown of constituency, etc.  That all ends with the reporting of Richard Craver of the Winston-Salem Journal.  Pay attention boys and girls at CNN, MSNBC, and the other crappy pretend journalist outlets.  This is how you do analysis and reporting.

Only 30 percent of Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s 17.44 million outstanding shares were cast in favor of defeating a shareholder proposal requiring the firearms manufacturer to issue a risk report on its products.

The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary of Marylhurst, Ore., submitted a “gun safety” proposal. It requires the Ruger board of directors to report “on its activities related to safety measures and mitigation of harm associated with company products.”

The proposals also asked for an update on where Ruger is on developing “smart guns that could significantly reduce accidental shootings and suicides.” Ruger received identical proposals from other shareholders.

Ruger announced at its annual shareholder meeting Wednesday that the proposal passed, but did not provide the vote counts. Ruger had at last count 334 employees at its plant in Mayodan.

The company reported the counts in a required regulatory filing late Monday. Just under 90 percent of its outstanding shares were represented at the meeting.

There were 7.19 million shares voted in favor of the proposal and 3.26 million against, representing 41.2 percent and 18.7 percent of Ruger’s outstanding shares, respectively.

There were 5.07 million shares in the non-voting category – 29.1 percent of outstanding shares – while 124,947 shares were listed as abstained.

[ … ]

Mutual funds giant BlackRock has told firearms manufacturers that it wants to “understand their responses” to the Florida school shooting. BlackRock owns 17 percent of Ruger and 11 percent of American Outdoor Brands through its various mutual fund indexes. Bank of America Corp. issued a similar statement.

It is not known how BlackRock cast its votes on the shareholder proposal.

He goes on to explain that the law prevents brokers from voting on matters for clients when there are no instructions from shareholders.

So the bottom line here is that [a] a lot of shareholders voted with the controllers to force the Ruger board to commission a “study” on risks associated with gun manufacturing, and [b] BlackRock owns a lot of stock in Ruger.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat here.  Ruger had better find a way to cut its ties with corporate America and issue – and buy – enough stock to allow the board and/or employees to have a controlling interest in the company.  These are dangerous times.

I understand the need for capital and thus the issuance of public stock.  But this is a bridge too far and leaves Ruger in a precarious position.  That needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

Prior:

Ruger Anti-Gun Shareholders More Powerful Than We Suspected?

The Next Installment Of The War Between Amalgamated Bank And Ruger

Amalgamated Bank Pressures Ruger To Support Gun Control Measures

Gun Control Tags:

Ruger Anti-Gun Shareholders More Powerful Than We Suspected?

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 1 week ago

CNBC:

A group of nuns and other faith-based investors won a shareholder vote at Sturm Ruger & Co. requiring one of the nation’s largest gun-makers to prepare a report about the risks of its business.

Ruger’s CEO, Christopher Killoy, said at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday that the company will comply and prepare the report. “Shareholders have spoken,” he said.

But, he added, the winning proposal “cannot force us to change our business,” and “cannot change what Ruger is about and what we stand for.”

Well, they apparently had enough shareholder power to force this action, which is not good.  I’ll tell you what.  Corporate Ruger had better evaluate massive share buys in the near future in order to prevent even worse things from happening.

Gun Control Tags:

Ruger Facebook Response To Request That They Not Distribute To Dick’s Sporting Goods

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 1 week ago

FB:

To All Our Loyal Fans & Customers: We have had a number of inquiries about whether we plan to discontinue sales to Dick’s Sporting Goods. We do not sell to Dick’s. Ruger utilizes a two-step distribution system in which we sell to independent, federally licensed distributors, who sell to independent, federally licensed retailers. Because the distributors are independent, we cannot control where they sell the products they acquire. However, we share your concerns about how Dick’s is conducting itself and are disappointed by their recent actions. Given Dick’s recent pronouncements, we expect it is safe to assume that you will not be seeing Ruger firearms in their stores. #Ruger #firearms

I just don’t know whether I believe this.  All Ruger – or any other manufacturer – has to do is require of their distributors that they not sell to Dick’s Sporting Goods.  If they are caught doing that, then Ruger does not use those distributors any more.

In fact, this could all be set up in a contractual agreement.  What’s so hard about that?  Why is Ruger dismissing this as if we’re stupid and can’t figure it out?

The Next Installment Of The War Between Amalgamated Bank And Ruger

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 2 weeks ago

CNBC:

Another community group, Majority Action, is organizing retail investors to push big fund companies like BlackRock and Vanguard, Sturm Ruger’s biggest shareholders, to assert their voting power. The group organized about six weeks ago, seeing now as a crucial moment for changing the gun industry.

“We were looking at how you enable everyday investors to access the levers of power when it comes to holding companies accountable,” said James Rucker, its co-founder, who is on the board of directors of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But even before these recent demands, controversy was certain to erupt at Sturm Ruger’s meeting, scheduled to take place May 9 at a resort in Arizona thousands of miles from its Connecticut headquarters. The company has a factory in the area.

Wednesday’s vote will be the first test this year of a proposal by a faith-based shareholder group urging the nation’s gun industry to act after recent extreme examples of gun violence.

Specifically, that proposal, backed by the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, asks gun makers like Sturm Ruger to prepare a report about the financial and reputational risks associated with their business. The coalition plans to introduce a similar proposal on the proxy of American Outdoor Brands, which typically holds its meetings in the fall.

Two major shareholder voting advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, have thrown their support behind the coalition’s proposal, Sturm Ruger’s board, on the other hand, is advising shareholders to vote against it. “We believe that firearms safety is a laudable and appropriate goal,” it said in the proxy. “However, we also believe that adequate safety practices and procedures are available.”

BlackRock said in a note to clients in March that it is time to take action on gun violence, adding it could use its position as a large shareholder to vote against boards and management and back shareholder proposals management doesn’t like. But it won’t comment about how it plans to vote its 2.8 million shares next week.

Several companies connected to the gun industry have changed their policies in recent weeks in response to the upswell of protests after a shooting in a Florida high school in February left 17 people dead. Major retailers such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods put limits on gun sales, and banks like Citigroup said it would restrict gun sales by business partners.

Fund managers like BlackRock and State Street said they would start a dialogue with gun makers about what they are doing to promote safety. BlackRock has even rolled out new funds that specifically remove stocks of gun makers and sellers.

Amalgamated wants the gun maker to publicly endorse universal background checks, funding for government to to crack down on illegal distribution, and funding for government research into gun safety and public health. They also want a commitment to responsible distribution contracts, monitoring of distribution chains and investments in gun safety technology and commercialization.

Froman, 68, is a lawyer and long-time gun industry supporter. The Southern Poverty Law Center found her name in a 2014 member directory of a secretive ultra-conservative group called the Council for National Policy. Tax forms from 2015 and 2016 filed by that organization list her as treasurer.

The year she became president of the NRA, the gun lobby won a crucial legal battle in the form of a new law limiting liability claims against gun makers. That same year, a donor program for the NRA launched and, as reported by Bloomberg in 2012, took in nearly $15 million from gun-related companies.

Froman has pointed to Smith & Wesson’s decision in 2000 to voluntarily comply with certain gun safety measures as its downfall. Grassroots gun supporters forced the company into bankruptcy after it made that “deal with the devil,” she has said.

“The grass roots is a powerful force that the government can’t control and can’t fight,” she said in a speech in 2011 to a group that supports knife ownership. “Just look at what’s happened with the rise of the Tea Party movement. Most of the battles that NRA has won have been won by sheer political power.”

Oh, okay.  Things make a little more sense now.  The Southern Preposterous Lie Center is after her, and for very good reason.  She believes that S&W made a “deal with the devil.”  Because they did, and she’s right.  She stands in the way of forcing Ruger to make that same sort of deal, although to be quite honest, I think the other board members as well as 100% of Ruger employees see things the same way she does.

The article is lacking in detail just like all preceding articles on this – we still don’t learn the relative shareholding power of these gun controller forces within Ruger stock.  But it sure will be interesting to follow this through and see how well or poorly the controllers do with this effort.

Prior: Amalgamated Bank Pressures Ruger To Support Gun Control Measures

Amalgamated Bank Pressures Ruger To Support Gun Control Measures

BY Herschel Smith
2 months, 3 weeks ago

It was just two weeks ago I wrote this.

Suppose that Ruger needs to spend $500,000 buying to tooling to replace old and worn tooling machinery, or to retool a line to fabricate a new product.  Suppose that none of the banks will do business with Ruger.  How does Ruger pay for the tooling machinery?  They can’t go through the bank.  They can’t hand cash to the machinery manufacturer – their accountant would reject it as making them look like they’re doing business with Iran.  No bank in their right mind will allow a company to deposit $500,000 cash without knowing where it came from.

This could all happen to Ruger without a new law being passed, since CEOs can do what they want, and corporations are in the main controlled by progressives and lawyers.

Apparently it’s worse than that.  From USA Today:

Amalgamated Bank, a New York-bank with $48 billion in institutional investment assets that emphasizes socially responsible practices, sent a letter Thursday to Sturm, Ruger & Company’s board, demanding that it adopt six reforms or it would not support the re-election of one of the gun maker’s board members, Sandra Froman, who is also an NRA board member.

The bank claims that Froman’s and the company’s “close relationship” to the NRA pose a conflict of interest that “may inhibit objective assessment and management risks Sturm, Ruger faces.”

[ … ]

In a letter to Sturm, Ruger’s board, Amalgamated’s CEO Keith Mestrich pressed the gun maker to commit to steps that address risks to its business and stock performance, which Mestrich claims has posted returns trailing the broad S&P 500 stock index over the past five years.

On the policy front, for example, the bank called on the gun manufacturer to publicly endorse mandatory background checks for all gun purchases and support the full funding of the federal agency that enforces gun laws.

Amalgamated’s top executive also wants Sturm, Ruger to take steps to monitor gun sellers to make sure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands and to emphasize “product safety innovation.”

All six reforms are recommended by Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit group focused on curbing gun violence.

Get the NRA board member off the Ruger board.  But that’s not all.  Read carefully.  The bank wants Ruger to support so-called “smart guns.”  If Ruger did this it would be the end of the business.  They know it, and surely the bank knows it.  They couldn’t shutter their doors fast enough to prevent looters from stealing what’s left because they couldn’t pay anyone to be at the plants.

This is a poorly written article because the author doesn’t explain exactly what leverage Amalgamated Bank has over Ruger, but presumably Ruger does their business with this bank.

If that’s so, this is what I warned about.  Without capitulating to the gun controllers, gun manufacturers will be drummed out of business because they can’t exchange capital for expansions, retooling, or even the logistical chain or payroll.  We have to do business with banks if you’re part of a corporation.  There is no other choice.

We’re in a civil war.  Realize where you are and what’s happening.  While most of America watches TV sitcoms and wears idiotic football jerseys, be about your business procuring what you need.  And that, quickly.

If you’re a gun manufacturer, you need to remove all avenues of leverage, get out of debt, and cut ties with corporate America.  They hate you.

Ruger To Lay Off Part Of Engineering Work Force

BY Herschel Smith
6 months, 1 week ago

Via reader David, Ruger is laying off employees.

Newport — Sturm, Ruger & Co. is in the process of laying off about 50 workers, or about 2.7 percent, of the company’s workforce, a top executive for the gunmaker said on Friday.

Ruger Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Reid Sr. said the layoffs are happening companywide, and he isn’t sure how many of the roughly 1,300 workers at the Newport location would be affected.

“It was for the needs of the business and tied to employee performance,” Reid said of the layoffs. “At Ruger, we routinely adjust our workforce.”

Reid, who is based in Ruger headquarters in Southport, Conn., said the company focused most of the layoffs on “indirect labor positions” such as marketing, sales and engineering, and not on employees directly involved in production.

Ruger employs between 1,800 and 1,900 people around the country.

He declined to comment on the timeline for the layoffs.

Ruger has three manufacturing locations: in Newport; Prescott, Ariz.; and Mayodan, N.C.

It also has a precision metals branch in Earth City, Mo., according to Ruger’s website.

Reid shied away from commenting on whether a third-quarter sales decrease impacted the layoffs, but noted that the company has “been in a fluctuating market, which I don’t think is lost on anybody.”

Well this isn’t a good report.  The gun market is soft right now for obvious reasons and so the work force is a little bloated compared to the purchase frenzy prior to the election.  But if anyone thinks that the softer market will continue they’re badly mistaken.

Let’s say it another way.  If you believe that the election of a pro-gun president is anything but a brief respite, you’re dense.  We need to remember that half of the country voted for gun controllers, and the other half is comprised of a lot of people who don’t care about our rights.

Florida will become a reliable blue state because of immigration from Puerto Rico, and Texas will be in play within a decade due to immigration South of the border.  Alabama just elected a democrat Senator, and Soros and Bloomberg are still dumping money into their candidates.  Except for a few outliers such as Texas open carry, gun rights hasn’t had a victory in a very long time (and no, Heller wasn’t a victory, and Texas open carry is still permitted carry).

This is going to turn around for firearms manufacturers within the next year or two, perhaps right after the 2018 elections, perhaps not, but certainly the year before the next presidential election.  Firearms manufacturers must do what they need to survive until then, but layoffs in marketing, sales, HR and support is one thing.  Layoffs in engineering is quite another.

Layoffs in engineering means that development slows down and competition gets harder to match.  It means that plant problems don’t get addressed as expeditiously as they otherwise might, and it means that just a single unaddressed problem like the Walker Fire Control that almost ruined Remington may end up ruining the next company that doesn’t have the resources to study problems and design remediation.

I think this is all around a very bad idea, and layoffs need to happen elsewhere, or otherwise all employees should take no raise (or even pay cuts) in order to ensure the health of the company.

Ruger Customer Service Experience

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 2 weeks ago

Reddit/r/firearms:

My cat stole a part of my revolver, Ruger replaced it free of charge, paid for shipping both ways, improved the trigger and sent me a pretty nice oiled up cleaning rag free of charge.

Here’s the rundown, after going out shooting I came home and disassembled by revolver – besides the cats I was the only one home. After I disassembled it I went to the bathroom, came back and found my cat on the table – tossed her off and then did a thorough cleaning.

My hammer dog mysteriously disappeared. I searched for that thing for an hour. It even got the point where I tried to shake it out of my cat. GONE. VAPORIZED. F***.

Well, I had heard some great things about Ruger’s customer so I gave them a call. The lady I spoke to on the phone was polite as I embarrassingly explained the situation.

What I expected: 25$ shipping there, 25$ shipping back, 25$-50$ for labor/parts.

What I got: A free of charge shipping label from ruger to send the Revolver in, no charge for labor, no charge for parts and no charge for them to send it back and a sweet cleaning rag to boot.

F***ing wow. To make things better the trigger is better than it was before, and it was pretty nice to begin with for a GP100.

I want to reiterate what just happened, because I’m still pretty stunned by how great the company treated me.

I f***ed up and they fixed it for me free of charge.

Easily one of the best customer service experiences of my life.

Now, some folks would say that this is a good way for Ruger to go out of business.  Those people have probably never run a successful business either.  I had a similar experience with my GP100.  It’s a beautiful firearm, and it’s trigger is as good as any S&W Performance Center trigger I’ve ever shot, in both single and double action.

Well, I’m not going to tell you what I did because it’s embarrassing, but Ruger handled it free of charge and I will never, ever get rid of that GP100.  I’ll keep it the rest of my life, I’ll recommend that other people buy the GP100, and I’m more inclined to get another Ruger product because of the great customer experience from them with the GP100.

So here’s a note to Ruger.  You know how to run a successful business.  Don’t ever change.

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