Is Benchmade the latest Dick’s Sporting Goods, or did they make a forgivable error?
Recently, Oregon knife manufacturer Benchmade hit the pro-gun-rights news thanks to a highly controversial social-media post created—and then later deleted—by the Oregon City Police. (There’s a good precis of the series of events, along with screenshots of the posts, here.)
The post featured images of firearms being destroyed using Benchmade’s specialty factory equipment, which the post explained was done at the request of the Oregon City P.D. Within just a few hours, however, Benchmade was facing accusations of anti-Second Amendment leanings. Those flames were then fanned when it came to light that Benchmade had given significant political contributions to local and state Democrats. It certainly doesn’t help that there have been a number of very recent and similar events involving outdoors companies Dick’s and Yeti Coolers. (And we’ve had quite a bit of fun with that here at GGD.) But does Benchmade deserve the social-media frenzy hitting them right now? The arguments pro and con can be pretty much summed up as follows. Which makes the most sense to you?
Pro: Benchmade Has it Coming
The folks who are getting out the Tannerite to give their Benchmade knives the ol’ Yeti Send-Off have an argument along these lines that they would direct to Benchmade:
Of all the things to do to ingratiate yourselves to the local constabulary, why did you go with this one? Don’t you realize that the Second Amendment can and does protect the ownership and manufacture of some edged weapons (although, hilariously, not the ones made specifically for cooking)? You must be aware of just how this looks—like you’re willing to cooperate with seizure and destruction of civilian arms at the .gov’s request. Our pro-Second Amendment community is very, very tired of being sold down the river by the same companies whose existence they owe to us, their customers. We’re simply not going to tolerate it any more.
Worse, why are you donating money to anti-gun politicians when a significant portion of your customers are hunters and shooters? Yes, those are the people in power where you are…so why are you making it easier for them to stay in power with money that we gave you? If you feel that you must contribute to local politicians to make sure your business gets a “seat at the table,” then maybe you should pick up stakes and go somewhere the politicians are worth supporting.
Benchmade Made a Mistake, But Learned Their Lesson
On the other hand, there are those who think that Benchmade’s primary sin here is ignorance of the optics of the situation. Gun owners have a visceral reaction to seeing firearms being destroyed at the behest of the government, and Benchmade absolutely should have recognized that. However, most companies find it in their best interests to foster a friendly and cooperative relationship with the local police—and everyone involved here agrees that the destruction of the guns happened at the Oregon City P.D.’s request. Those who put forth this argument ask if, as business owners, they would have refused that request were they in Benchmade’s shoes.
As far as the campaign donations, no, that doesn’t look great. But the reality of operating a business in a blue or purple state is that campaign contributions will at least get you an audience with your local government officials when, for example, the street in front of your business is a hellscape of potholes.
What’s more, Yeti and Dick’s made their anti-gun moves in reaction to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. Benchmade’s public-relations boo-boo seems to have been motivated by little more than a request from the local cops—it doesn’t appear that Benchmade was trying to signal any virtues.
So, readers, what’s your call? Tell us in the comments!
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