On the opening night of recent gun writers’ conference in Orlando, Jason Wilson, founder and CEO of Wyoming-based Lucid Optics, made a statement that would be brought up in quiet, side discussions for the duration of the event.
“No matter who wins, it will cost the industry,” said Wilson, whose once-small business now has distributors in 14 countries. He might be onto something.
Wilson isn’t shy about saying that some components of his products are made overseas. Processes like lens coating, he says, aren’t even available in the States. And, according to Wilson, China is the only place in the world making batteries. Wilson is emphatic that many companies claim to sell US-made goods, but closer examination can prove that many aren’t being completely truthful.
Maybe it’s because 2016 was the year I became friends with a Chinese American family that has several successful gun-related ventures, or maybe it’s because I’ve started to look and think closely at some of my own favorite gear and realize quite a lot of it is foreign-made, in many cases because I choose not to spend more than necessary on a piece of kit. Maybe it’s having looked at a clothing designers’ blog and discovered many complaints about how hard it is to begin a business relationship with a domestic manufacturer, while Vietnamese and Chinese vendors are offering concierge-like services to even small-volume startups.
Whatever the reason, I’ll admit that I’ve come to see the hypocrisy in my own and others’ recommendations to buy American. If we were really that interested in acting on our purchasing ideals, after all, a number of big-name tactical goods suppliers might not even exist. Instead, they’re our basket of adorables.
Wilson’s statement isn’t so much surprising as it is sobering, assuming he’s right. Gun owners already expect a massive fight to prevent new forms of legislative control. Many are resigned to rebellion or lawlessness if restriction creep by legislation or abuse of executive orders continues. In conversation, those conditions are usually followed by the phrase “if Clinton is elected.”
But is a Trump election really that much rosier? Wilson has run some numbers based on Trump’s promised import tariffs. As I understand it, he expects to lose nearly half a million per year under Trump. Yes, it may bring some aspects of Lucid production to Wyoming from overseas, but at a cost. Trump has clearly promised import tariffs, but has been less vocal on other business-affecting issues like the minimum wage floor, and other regulations on labor and environment.
I used to enthusiastically carry my e-waste to the annual recycling event until seeing a video of Chinese children, many with scars from work-related burns, walking through an acid sea of discarded electronics to harvest nickel. While I still feel more responsible for my own corner of the world than theirs, the image is a reminder that there is no zero-sum equation.
Are gun owners ready to pay more, possibly a lot more, for the same products that don’t seem so cheap, even now? Will Second Amendment supporters be so enthusiastic about not allowing the takeover of a right by a government that can’t possibly guarantee personal safety, in a world where national security must be won, repeatedly, by battles large and small? I sure hope so.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.