At what point does the cry of “unification” really just become an excuse to keep things smooth with friends or associates?

At what point do you need to start cutting people out of the club?

Better Question:  At what point do people self-select out of the club?

Last month, when Cheaper Than Dirt! responded to the tragic killings in Newtown, CT by suspending all online firearms sales in the interest of re-examining their marketing approach (presumably to emphasize “sporting” firearms) and followed that miss-step up with ridiculous price gouging of ammo and magazines (400+% markups), they got what they deserved: Swift Backlash from the firearms community and a loss of many thousands of customers. Since that time, reports of them canceling back-orders and selling the same items for the new higher prices have been rampant. Yet, I was still told by some people at SHOT Show last week that we should not ostracize or boycott them, because we need to be “united”.

For a couple of years now, I have been prodded by people in the Open Carry Movement, and occasionally questioned by those who don’t care a lick about open carry, for my criticism of those who wear guns openly to get attention, to cause confrontation and to agitate law enforcement and non-gun owners. I have taken the position that those people have done the Right to Keep & Bare Arms movement more harm than good… as I believe was demonstrated clearly in the legal changes in CA in regard to open carry of unloaded firearms (the first major negative state level firearms legislative action in over a decade up until the recent New York Restrictions) and the ‘clarification’ of Mississippi laws that prohibit OC, which had up ’til then been a gray area. I have been accused of not supporting the Second Amendment because I was not willing to give this cantankerous crowd support on the basis of presenting a “unified” front as gun owners.

A couple of weeks ago, I was even challenged for wanting to distance myself, and all responsible gun owners, from the conspiracy theory babbling of Alex Jones on a national television program. During his interview Mr. Jones was making some good points about gun violence and allowed himself to be distracted by the opportunity to insinuate the the US Gov’t was complicit in the attacks of 9/11. Again, the call was for me to embrace Mr. Jones as just another gun owner, because it somehow weakened our cause to not be “unified”. Personally, I think it weakens out cause to mix the RKBA Discussion in with our own, unrelated, niche passions in regard to lifestyle, politics or religion and only serves to cut our movement off from the vast majority of moderately minded responsible gun owners.

Most recently, I have read a statement from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade organization of the firearms industry, calling for “unification” in regard to the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show. The organizers of that show, Reed Exhibition Company, have decided to ban all AR style rifles and accessories. ESOS is one of the largest hunting shows in the world open to consumers and it is now dealing with many industry leading companies, including Cabela’s and Trijicon, pulling out of the even entirely in response to their decision to ostracize the fastest growing & most popular section of our community. So, why would the NSSF put out a call for people to stay in the show?  Reed Exhibitions also runs the SHOT Show… the largest trade event in the firearms industry. How is it possible that we can stay in a show to present  a “united” front, when the part of the industry that needs our support the most has been kicked out ? I am a member of the NSSF and it makes no sense to me. I do applaud the NSSF’s official statement as a step in the right direction, but I hope that there is follow up that results in a change in Reed’s position on AR’s or a change in SHOT Show Management.

So, I ask the question, “At what point do one’s actions put them outside the group?”   When your actions make you a detriment to the bigger picture and/or to the greater good and the fundamental principles of our cause, I think you step out of the umbrella of “unification”.  When you cut off customers, entire classes of firearms, provide the other side with ammunition to paint us as extremists or to give the impression that we have something to hide, be ashamed of, or apologize for, I think you are beyond the scope of claiming protection under the “Unified Front” clause.

Over a decade ago, I wrote a statement for a project called the “Firearms Owners Unification Project“.  The fight at that time was to unify those hunters, sport shooters and even some industry leaders who would accept capacity limits and firearms bans because their interested weren’t being threatened with the rest of us who saw the bigger picture and were being directly affected by the bans and restrictions of that era. We’ve largely won that fight and we’ve seen incremental encroachment for what it is. A temporary ban becomes permanent. A 10 round limit becomes a 7. This process continues until we don’t have any firearms left. As individual gun owners, most of us get that now.

UnknownI’m all for the unification of our movement and our community… but, not if those I am being asked to join with are making our job harder or trying to play the old game of “hide the black guns”. We know that doesn’t work. The primary reason for the Second Amendment is defense of one’s self, one’s family and, ultimately… if need be… this country.  It is not hunting and it is not competition shooting. Those who have benefitted from the amazing growth in the defensive, tactical, “military style” sector of our industry, including Cheaper Than Dirt! and Reed Exhibitions, should think about what “Unification” really means.  And, it might be time for NSSF to shop around for a better ally to organize SHOT Show (OR to put some public pressure on Reed to rescind their decision) so that we can know that we are all truly unified.

-Rob Pincus

-I.C.E. Training Company

  1. Duncan says:

    Great article, I could not agree more. Companies and individuals in the firearms community need to thing more about what effect their actions and statements mean in the big picture of things.

    • Chris Bianchi (Francis FN Marion) says:

      Great article Rob, but I think it needs mentioned the SMALL companies from PA that led the charge to boycott the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show… Specifically Trop Gun Shop, Direct Action Tactical, Domari Nolo Defense Consulting, Stay Ready Incorporated, Snake Hound Machine, and SpecOpShop.

      As the CEO of Domari Nolo, I met with a representative of Direct Action, who was in direct contact with Trop… Stay Ready, SpecOpShop, and SHM were partners in our display booth at the show. This decision was made on Tuesday night last week, and Cabelas and Trijicon- the large companies mentioned, were unaware even at that point of the issue itself.

      I spoke directly with a representative from Trijicon, and they boycotted in short order.

      In other words- it is the men (and women) in the TRENCHES… The SMALL guys, that are now in the drivers seat.

      The establishment, yourself included Mr. Pincus, would do much better to remember, and respect that.

      WE are leading this industry, and the march towards American economic prosperity, with or without the establishment- and we intend to lead by EXAMPLE, as you just witnessed with this action.

      Credit where credit is due.

      • Rob Pincus says:

        AGREED, Sir! Thank you for your leadership.

        I applaud your willingness to take the right steps, and not wait for others to act or tell you what to do!

        -RJP

      • Dale Hibshman says:

        Chris,
        Well said. I appreciate the sacrifices and leadership of all the businesses who have withdrawn. I especially appreciate Trop. They are my go to shop.
        Dale

  2. Al Kuhn says:

    Spot on Rob. As far as I’m concerned when we speak of “Unification” it should SOLELY be when it comes to those people who don’t seem to have an issue with a gun ban..as long as it doesnt affect their Hunting, Trap, Skeet, Clays, Cowboy Action (although in all honesty I have NEVER heard anything but support for EBR’s from the CAS Crowd)..or any Shooter who has the audacity to say “Why would you even need That”. Time and time again, Politicians and Anti-gun groups have made statements that indicate that they will NOT stop with getting rid of those “Evil Black Rifles”, but will then move on to “Sniper Rifles”…much like those a large portion of the population use to Hunt, and eventually ALL handguns. Benjamin Franklin once said “We must all hang together, or we will surely Hang Separately” that is no less true today. My own state of NJ is a very pointed example of this. when an issue affects the hunting community, such as the proposed .50 cal ban a few years ago, that would have included Black powder firearms, the ENTIRE Firearms community came together and put pressure on the politicians to defeat it. A few months later, when the “One Handgun a Month” law was proposed, we stood alone and watched it get rammed down out throats as the Hunters left us high and dry. As far as NSSF, they somewhat have to defend the likes of CTD, they are paying members, and I Believe they are locked into a contract with Reed Promotions for next year’s SHOT. I would HOPE however that when push comes to shove, NSSF would side with the shooters in the end. About the only thing I might disagree with is the term “Gouging”, and that is purely on the Semantic Level, I see it more as “Profiteering”. CTD engaged in the same practice, as did other vendors, during the panic after the 2008 Election. The backlash from that opened the eyes of some of the others, apparently CTD didn’t get the message then. I believe they may this time. Capitalism is a wonderful thing..but hammering your customer base to make a quick profit, may come to bite you in the long term. People forgot or forgave last time, I dont think that will happen this time around. Speaking only for myself, I will spend my own money with the Companies and vendors who did not choose to take advantage of a bad situation, and make things worse for all of us.

  3. Doug says:

    Ultimately, what we need to do is soundly and completely make it clear to those in every facet of the shooting continuum that they are being attacked. Only then will we hang together.

    • Rob Pincus says:

      I think we all have to decide that as individuals… if enough individuals decide that someone is out of the pack, then they will find themselves ostracized. My position is that if you think someone should not be ostracized after a miss-step, then you need to explain to me with sound, objective, logical reasons WHY they should be kept around… not simply cry “Unification!” and think that is enough.

  4. Joe says:

    I’m shocked at your ignorance of the vast gains caused directly by Open Carry. While I prefer to carry concealed, open carriers forced states like Ohio and Wisconsin to change their laws and pass CC legislation.

    Sighting the one negative outcome of open carry in California is showing a complete ignorance of the rest of the nation. Or you are purposefully being deceitful. I hope it’s just due to ignorance.

    • Rob Pincus says:

      Joe, I am not convinced that the legal changes you referenced had anything to do with OC. I do not believe that positive OC experiences were cited in either legislative action, rather, it appears that OC has retroactively claimed them as victories. That said, obviously, CA and MS are not the only negative examples of PURPOSEFULLY CONFRONTATIONAL OPEN CARRY on our community. If you are not talking about the guys who OC just for political activism, then we are not talking about the same thing.

      • Brian Shively says:

        Right on Rob, We are seeing the same thing here in Oregon. I do not want to see my open carry rights taken as I do not know how far they would go – cops called for walking to my car to throw a gun into the car or something of the such. But open carry for the purpose of “look what I can do” only pisses people off and hurts the cause. They ended up putting local schools in lock down, you can’t tell me that won’t turn people against gun owners. As well I loved the article, and totally agree. Thanks for being a spokesman for us responsible gun owners.

  5. Allen Scheer, aka "ZombieTactics" says:

    The line of demarcation should be that of self-selection. Those who choose to separate themselves from us, should simply find themselves alone and isolated. There is s GIANT line between someone doing something stupid, or saying harsh words in anger, or doing something ‘stupid’ for political or promotional effect which makes us all cringe … and that of actually deciding to oppose the community at large.

    To put it concrete terms, that’s the difference between people saying Rob Pincus “hurts the cause” because there is a video of him shooting while doing upside-down sit-ups, and some trade show saying “ARs are unwelcome here”.

    That logic extends pretty far, IMHO. Someone who is on my side in this fight, is ON MY SIDE. I probably disagree – passionately – with others about all sorts of things. It is the passionate defense of the 2A which protects the right to disagree about all of those other things.

    Our problem isn’t James Yeager shooting his mouth off or Rob Pincus doing upside-down sit-ups. Neither is it the hunter who scares the crap out of people at the gas station because of the deer strapped on his hood.It’s our general inability to get past peripheral issues and focus on the fight itself.

  6. Les Aker says:

    “For a couple of years now, I have been prodded by people in the Open Carry Movement, and occasionally questioned by those who don’t care a lick about open carry, for my criticism of those who wear guns openly to get attention, to cause confrontation and to agitate law enforcement and non-gun owners.”

    You were doing pretty well until you got to that part. What you are effectively saying that that people in CA would still have the right to carry openly if only no one had decided to exercise their right to carry openly. A right unexercised is no longer a right.

    The fact that you misrepresent why people choose to exercise their right to open carry is even worse.

    • Rob Pincus says:

      No, what I am saying is that the people in CA would have the right to OC if a few misguided souls hadn’t walked the streets with unloaded guns and video cameras taunting, challenging and wasting the time of police officers. If you aren’t talking about the OC Activists, then we aren’t talking about the same people. If you think that carrying openly for the purposes of political confrontation or general attention seeking is okay, then we disagree. Strongly. -RJP

  7. Rob Pincus says:

    Based on a couple of the last few comments, I’m guessing that this article has been reposted on one the OC Forums and is now being targeted as a place to push their agenda… so, FYI: No further comments that aren’t related to the topic of Unification will be approved here. Feel free to comment on the actual Open Carry article at this blog (linked in this article, for your convenience). THANKS!

  8. Lyndsy Simon says:

    I agree that gun rights advocates should not choose to align themselves with whomever happens to own a gun, but there is value in “unification”. There’s also a better way to do it.

    The only way I see to get a large enough consensus on any single issue to make a difference is to refine that issue down to something that many people can agree on, then aggressively pursue it.

    Consider the “National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban” – http://www.nhfc-ontarget.org/2013/01/uncategorized/national-coalition-to-stop-the-gun-ban-responds-to-the-president/ – to which 36 gun rights organizations have subscribed. By narrowly defining the agenda of the group and the actions that the group will take, they have effectively been able to bring together a large number of voices under one banner. They have done so without any of its component groups endorsing the views of another.

    In other words – Alex Jones probably says some things about gun rights that are spot on. He also likely says some things about the “9/11 Conspiracy” and “Chemtrails” and a variety of other topics where he and I would vehemently disagree. If we can speak in a unified voice on a single issue without my implicitly endorsing everything else he stands for, then by all means. Where do I sign up?

  9. Todd says:

    Great article, I think we need to weed out the fair weather friends of the 2nd Amendment. I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of hearing someone say I support the Second Amendment BUT, I don’t think someone needs an assault rifle, or more than X # of rounds, etc. Folks you’re either all in or not in at all in my book.

  10. Chris Byrne says:

    I agree with most of this, but Mr. Pincus also should realize that “shall not be infringed” means “Shall not be infringed”! This includes open carry. I am not a fan of open carry either, but why have we allowed ourselves to be forced “under ground” with our God given constitutionally protected rights to “Keep and Bear Arms”? It is time for the hardest PUSH BACK ever. One that will not be forgotten after a few election cycles!

    • Rob Pincus says:

      Chris, I let this comment in only to show that you are completely missing the point. I am not questioning Reed’s “right” to ban ARs at the show, CTD’s “right” to gouge, Alex Jone’s “right” to opine about conspiracies or anyone’s “right” to wear a gun specifically to call attention to themselves or agitate police officers…. Sometimes people need to make the choice not to do something without the gov’t stepping in simply because it is wrong even if you have the “right” to do it.

  11. Matt says:

    Rob, could you elaborate specifically what people should be unified with? I read your opinion, and to me it lacks what would bind “pro gun” supporters together. To me you are asking for the inclusion of the tactical weaponry sector with every other firearm, and declaring the limitations of current weaponry standards would be considered apologetic. If guns truly are not the problem, or any “weapon” for that matter, why not base pro-gun unification around measures to establish a more peaceful community? Or are providing solutions to constructs that lead to recent misuse not what you are willing to discuss? What is your opinion of comments like “cars, knives, and bats kill people, we should ban those too?” Are analogies such as this fall under your opinion of ammunition to paint us as extremists? I am only asking you this because I respect what you have said and would like to hear more on your thoughts.

    • Rob Pincus says:

      I think that those arguments are valid… but, if they fall on deaf ears, then we need to be capable of switching gears. It isn’t that hard for 99% of the population to say “Well, cars bring us an incredible amount of convenience, and positive value, so it is worth the cost. Guns bring us nothing good, so they are not worth the cost, even if it is smaller.” From that point, the argument becomes irrelevant to the person. So, we need to explain the “good” that comes from firearms. For me, that always will inevitably come down to Self-Defense. Many people then want to turn to the problem of stopping/ending violence or evil. It happened to me on a radio show… I simply say that “ending evil” is beyond the scope of my work. I leave that to others… but, while there is still evil, a firearm gives me and everyone else the opportunity to defend ourselves from it.
      What binds gun owners together is the Second Amendment and the Second Amendment is about DEFENSE.

  12. Ken Thompson says:

    As you know, UNITY and UNION are not the same animal. What is being called for by those who ask all of us to stay banded together when someone does things such as those described here are asking for union. How can we have unity when some would sacrifice liberty and freedom to gain some sort of perceived safety or protection? Those who would give up liberty and freedom for any reason do not deserve either, and they will lose both!

  13. Matt says:

    Rob,

    I am sure that the 99% that fit your demographic would not say what you express unless they are oblivious to the fact our military, and law enforcement have to successfully operate with guns. I would also suspect that a majority of that 99% are allowed by law to bare arms during home invasions.

    Cheaper than Dirt made a poor choice to expand their business profit, and I am surprised you are not commenting on Cabela’s marketing strategy either. Thanks to Reed, Cabela’s, one of the largest outdoor retail chains that haven’t made any change with either price or supply, took the opportunity to back out of the expo only to capitalize on profit. It was legal, free of publicity, and it was easy to not be frowned upon by customers. I am not saying I dislike Cabela’s, however I am not going to make a distinction between them and Cheaper than Dirt other than being smarter.

    I feel that history will repeat itself because we didn’t learn our lessons on how to create a clever argument. Instead of agreeing the quality of life affects the outcomes of society (more jobs, a better health care system etc.), most second amendment protectors are spotlighting the gun. The “other side”, as most will call it, would be turned upside down and would have to agree. The last time the gun was used in the debate by pro gun advocates, we resulted in having a ban on certain weapons. The day we stop making the gun the thesis for a counter argument, is the day we will not have to worry about this repeatable argument. And if people are concerned about jobs, taxes, and our health care system, it would be easy to bring that to the forefront of this issue.

  14. Linoge says:

    Speaking (obliquely) of Open Carry, does this mean you will continue to be standing unified with James Yeager after he illegally challenged his detractors to an equally-illegal duel, or do his poorly-thought-out and now nationally-recognized threats constitute “a detriment to the bigger picture and/or to the greater good and the fundamental principles of our cause”?

    • Rob Pincus says:

      I have spoken to James since his outburst(s) many times over the past few weeks. As everyone knows by now, he has been contrite and sincere in his apology and acknowledgment that he stepped (far) over the line. Certainly, behavior such as he exhibited meets the criteria of being “a detriment to the bigger picture and/or to the greater good and the fundamental principles of our cause”. I appreciate the fact that he retracted his hyperbolic statements and apologized for any damage done. My sincere hope is that he maintains his current attitude. I hope that James follows the example of Mr. Zumbo, who many years ago made a major miss-step, apologized and reformed.

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