Deja Vu

Where have I seen this before?

NYT: Please, Please Buy This Gun Company
What if the big banks that have provided financing to Remington during its bankruptcy were to back — and partner with — one or more of the big private equity firms in an effort to transform the company into the most advanced and responsible gun manufacturer in the country?
And they would not be out to kill the business; quite the opposite: They could create a profitable model for the rest of the industry using technology and sound sales policies to reinvent the modern-gun manufacturer.

Hey, it isn’t as if Dick’s is losing business — and business partners — as a result of going all social justice, right? Um, wait…

Smith & Wesson. Ring any bells, Sorkin?

So what does this posterboy for historical ignorance suggest?

A reimagined Remington with a new management and mandate could develop smart-gun technology. It could back fingerprint technology meant to prevent anyone who is not the gun’s owner from shooting it, a measure that could greatly reduce suicides and the potential for guns to be stolen.

Except no one has ever developed a really workable “smart” gun system. There’s a market for one that really does work (and doesn’t make the firearm unaffordable).

Armatix. Any dings yet, bub?

It could add an identity stamp to ammunition fired from any of its guns.

Again, no one has managed to do that reliably outside of a lab. If they could, it would open up the still-large California market. I suspect manufacturers would like to peddle their wares there. But… It. Doesn’t. Work.

It could also establish and standardize responsible sales policies for retailers to sell its firearms.

Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Bankruptcy. Sold for pennies on the dollar. It took S&W years to recover, and it’s still struggling.

Make no mistake: There is absolutely a market for a gun company focused on safety technology. A poll conducted by Johns Hopkins University researchers and published online by the American Journal of Public Health showed 59 percent of Americans were willing to buy a smart gun.

Will someone step up to make it happen?

Let me explain something that a business reporter clearly has trouble comprehending.

  • Companies that base their business model on the assumption that their products and customers are evil fail. Customers prefer companies that provide what they want at a reasonable price. They don’t want moralization, to be called evil for things someone else did. (Well, except church-goers, I suppose.)
  • Engineering is hard: An electronic system that can distinguish and allow specific firearms users has to survive an environment where temperatures range from sub-zero Farenheit to well into the hundreds, corrosive sweat, rain, grit, solvents, lubricants, not to mention transitory g-forces into the thousands of g’s. The system has to fit into the gun without making it unwieldy. It has to be affordable.
  • Engineering is hard. A microstamping element has to be made of a material rigid enough to not deform under impact, yet sufficiently resilient not to shatter under the same impact. Ordinary shop stamping tools wear out. Microstamp dies are far more delicate. Which also means you can remove the stamp with a nail file, rendering it useless.
  • Engineering is also expensive. Firing pins wear out. Microstamping firing pins (a common gun control dream) will also wear out, and need to be replaced; either with a new registered pin (and gun owners mostly hate registration), or a custom-manufactured pin with the same number: expensive.

Just admit it, Sorkin. You don’t want a social justice driven Remington. You want to drive the company out of business.