Gun-Crazy Business Models

We often think of business leaders as hard-nosed pragmatists, guided by dollars and cents with little regard to emotion. But the truth is that corporate executives are human just like the rest of us. They can be as irrational as anyone, and frequently make business decisions on the basis of things like spite.

So it is that the gun maker Beretta USA has decided against expanding operations into West Virginia, despite heavy lobbying from state officials, becauseas the Charleston Gazette reports, "they say Sen. Joe Manchin's push to expand background checks makes the state less stable for their business." Perhaps the folks at Beretta don't quite understand what a senator does, or how laws passed (or in this case, not passed) by Congress actually work. If Congress were to pass a background check bill for the country, it wouldn't make the state of West Virginia any more or less "stable" for the gun business than any other state.

And after all, business is booming. It isn't that more Americans are buying guns (gun ownership is on a steady long-term decline), but that those who do own guns are buying more and more of them. That's why companies like Beretta have forged such a close alliance with the National Rifle Association. The NRA tells its constituents that the country is about to descend into a Mad Max-style apocalypse and that politicians will be confiscating their guns any day, so they rush out to buy more, and the gun manufacturers reap the profits.

A new background check law might help keep guns out of the hands of some people who shouldn't have them, but it probably wouldn't hurt Beretta's bottom line one bit. They're in a business that has gone nowhere but up. Nevertheless, like other gun advocates, they want to think of themselves as oppressed, kept down by mean politicians in their crusade for liberty. But wherever they decide to move those couple of hundred jobs, they'll be just fine.

And by the way, in the six and a half months since the Sandy Hook massacre, roughly 5,600 Americans have been killedwith guns.



“I can sleep easier now, because I know that if anything happens to me anywhere in the world, he is my husband now, and we have the rights of other married people.”

—Army Reserves Captain Michael Potoczniak, who married his partner of ten years this Saturday in California 

Daily Meme: "We Are Devastated."

  • A huge forest fire, started by a lighting strike, has ravaged Arizona this week, swallowing 8,000 acres and more than 200 homes.
  • It's the deadliest fire in the United States in 80 years.
  • There are 200 firefighters currently on the scene.
  • Yesterday, 19 firefighters—members of the specialist team of Granite Mountain Hotshots—were killed fighting the blaze.
  • It's the biggest loss of life fighting fire since 9/11, when 340 firefighters were killed.
  • The fire chief of the team, only one of whom survived, said of the tragedy, "We are devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you will ever meet. We’re going through a terrible crisis right now.”
  • Prescott, the city where the firefighters were from, was known as "Everybody's Hometown." "Everybody knows everybody here, and everybody is going to know one of these guys," as the Arizona secretary of state said.
  • Investigators aren't sure why the firefighters weren't able to escape. "For now, we mourn," as the state's governor Jan Brewer said today.
  • The sequester ate away 7.5 percent of the Forest Service's budget, half of which goes to fighting fires.

What We're Writing

  • Economic diversity, argues Walter Benn Michaels, is just like racial diversity: neither has anything to do with actual equality.
  • Most conservative intellectuals have accepted that same-sex marriage in America is inevitable. Now, as The Prospect's Garbriel Arana writes, they’re wondering what the future looks like for its opponents.

What We're Reading

  • Europe is not impressed with the NSA right now.
  • The New Republic has assembled an absolutely stuffed guide to what Obama should do with what remains of his second term.
  • New York magazine annotates the rise of Wendy Davis.
  • Frank Rich explains when privacy jumped the shark.
  • Molly Ball reports on the liberals who are getting antsy on the immigration reform bill, fearing that it might be a bit too conservative.
  • Adam Serwer has some #realtalk on the Supreme Court's ideological leanings.
  • Matt Cook, a former soldier in Iraq, heads back to the war to report on how things stand now.
  • NPR is spending the week looking at demographic changes in Texas, starting with Houston.
  • Pacific Standard profiles the hippies called to hack the Afghan War.

Poll of the Day

Around 7.4 million students will be affected when government-backed student-loan rates double today after lawmakers failed to reach a consensus to stop the increase. That won't help the number of households already saddled with debt from college, a number that was up to 19 percent in 2010, according to a Pew Research Center poll. This jump in price will add an average of $2,600 over ten years to the costs of each borrower.

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