What Happened When a Major Gun Company Crossed the NRA

Share:
A firearms retailer examines a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

A firearms retailer examines a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

January 16, 2015

Smith & Wesson, the storied American gun company, is today a proud supporter of the NRA.

In 2012, the company signed on to a four-year sponsorship of one of the NRA’s promotional programs. And its new chief executive, James Debney, was inducted into the NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom — the highest ranking of donors, reserved for those who donate $1 million or more. It comes with a golden jacket with the NRA insignia on the breast pocket.

In a statement hailing the award, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, said: “Smith & Wesson is a valued corporate partner in NRA’s fight to preserve the Second Amendment and we are grateful for their dedication to our shared American values.”

But the relationship wasn’t always so friendly.

In the late ’90s, Smith & Wesson was facing a major lawsuit filed by cities and states that blamed the company for rampant gun violence. The company stood to lose millions. So in 2000, under pressure from the Clinton administration, Smith & Wesson’s chief executive, Ed Schultz, made a fateful decision — and raised the ire of the powerful National Rifle Association and its supporters.

Watch what happened next:


Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Senior Editor & Director of Local Projects, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@sarah_childress

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

As Purdue Pharma Agrees to Settle with the DOJ, Revisit Its Role in the Opioid Crisis
The proposed $8.3 billion settlement between Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, and the federal government is the latest in a battle over who is responsible for the nation’s opioid crisis, as covered by FRONTLINE in "Chasing Heroin" and "Opioids, Inc."
October 21, 2020
With Election 2020 Underway, a Key Provision of the Voting Rights Act Languishes
Against the backdrop of a pandemic and a divisive presidential election, legislation to restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, following the landmark 2013 Supreme Court 2013 decision Shelby v. Holder, remains locked in Congress.
October 21, 2020
We Investigated 'Whose Vote Counts.' Our Findings Unfold Tonight.
A note from our executive producer about the new documentary 'Whose Vote Counts,' premiering Oct. 20.
October 20, 2020
How Associating Mail-in Ballots with Voter Fraud Became a Political Tool
Unsubstantiated warnings of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election echo a 1980s case involving Black civil rights activists and then-Alabama Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
October 20, 2020