A particularly depressing bit of news from my old stomping grounds growing up crosses our desk today. Remington Arms, one of the nation’s most venerable manufacturers of firearms, is in serious financial trouble and has reached an agreement to file for bankruptcy protection. And according to Bloomberg’s coverage of this story, the main reason they’re citing for their fiscal woes is… Donald Trump.
This particular case of assigning blame is probably different from ones you’ve seen in the past, however. Normally we’d hear about Washington passing some new regulation which harms businesses. In this case, they’re saying that President Trump is such a fan of protecting Second Amendment rights that people aren’t in as much of a rush to run out and buy firearms because, unlike during Obama’s tenure, they’re not worried that the government will be coming to take them away.
For two centuries, it has been a totem of America’s gun culture — a name emblazoned on frontier flintlocks and U.S. Army .45s.
But on Monday Remington Outdoor Co., which traces its history back to 1816, said it would file for bankruptcy protection, succumbing to a slump in business worsened by, of all things, a president who has steadfastly supported Americans’ right to bear arms.
The bankruptcy is a blow to the private-equity mogul Stephen Feinberg, who has been a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump. Feinberg’s firm, Cerberus Capital Management, acquired Remington in 2007 and subsequently saddled it with almost $1 billion in debt. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will let Remington stay in business while it works out a plan to turn around the company and pay its creditors.
At most I suppose we could call this the Reverse Trump Effect. The President is a big supporter of not just gun rights, but gun manufacturers as well. The one thing he can’t do is force people to go out and buy the product. With the perceived threat to gun ownership in the rearview mirror for now, shoppers are probably finding other things to spend their new tax break money on.
Of course, that perception of the danger to gun ownership based on who is in the Oval Office has always been somewhat overblown. The Democrats still don’t have enough seats to pass any serious gun restrictions even if they still had the White House. The real danger lies in state-level regulations. Replacing Obama with Trump hasn’t done a thing to loosen the vulture-like grip of the New York Safe Act, one of the worst gun laws in the country and, ironically, passed in the same state that Remington traditionally called home. (I used to ride past their factory on my bicycle as a kid on a regular basis.)
Fortunately, this is a reorganizational bankruptcy. At this point, it doesn’t look as if they’ll be closing the doors or laying off a lot of their workers. But if things don’t turn around for them in the near future that could always change. It would be an absolute shame to lose them. Remington makes some beautiful products. My very first rifle, received when I was around ten years old, was a Remington bolt-action .22 long rifle. I still have fond memories of it.