Christmas has come early in Ilion, New York, site of America’s oldest factory still making its original product—guns. George Kollitides, chairman and CEO of Remington Outdoor Company, Inc., (ROC), a group formerly known as Freedom Group, Inc., sent his employees a memo to let them know they’re buying out unhappy stockholders instead of selling ROC under political duress. No more making guns under the threat of an imminent sale, no more wondering what might happen any moment to this little town living around the beating brick heart of a gun factory since 1816.
Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., ROC’s owner, has been looking for a buyer for the firearm group since December 2012, after a sociopath used a semiautomatic rifle made by Bushmaster, one of ROC’s subsidiaries, to murder students and others at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which then held 2.4 percent of Freedom Group, threatened Cerberus to sell its gun makers or they’d pull their funds.
ROC, whose many products have been in high demand, hasn’t found a buyer. To end the uncertainty, a group of investors, including Kollitides, decided to buy out the discontented investors. The memo from Kollitides said, “The $175 million loan proceeds will be used to repurchase $150 million of shares from exiting investors, with the remaining $25 million in cash being placed on ROC’s balance sheet, which will be used to grow our business with capital equipment, facility and acquisition investments.”
Of course, this move does not mean ROC still can’t still be sold; it just makes the sale seem less likely.
Teddy Novin, ROC’s public affairs director, confirmed that the memo sent from Kollitides to employees is legit. Kollitides memo also explained that his investment group intends to follow the initial equity move with more transactions to grow and solidify the ROC.
ROC is a diverse company with facilities spread across the U.S., including an ammunition manufacturer in Arkansas—a facility ROC is currently investing $32 million in—and many other facilities. The plant in Ilion, however, has been a focal point for speculation and rumors because of its iconic history and meaning to America’s 100 million gun owners. In the past two years, as gun sales have continued to surge, the Remington Arms factory in Ilion has doubled its workforce from 700 employees to about 1,400 and ROC has invested $20 million in the factory.
The men and women making guns in America’s oldest gun factory in Ilion are members of United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Local Union 717. They’re mostly blue collar. They wear jeans and work boots to the factory. Many of their fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers and generations more before them worked in this factory.
I visited this facility again in October 2013. Located near Utica in Upstate New York, the old brick factory is the beating heart of Ilion and nearby Mohawk.
For the rest of the article click here for my column in Forbes.
Were Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp really friends? I wondered and did some research. Original sources show that in the Wild West the line between outlaw and town marshal were sometimes blurry. Such was the case with John Henry “Doc” Holliday and Wyatt Earp. Holliday was born 1851 in Georgia. His mother died of tuberculosis shortly after his 15th birthday. The disease would take other family members and finally Holliday as well. He was educated at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery and practiced for a short time as a dentist. When Holliday was diagnosed with tuberculosis he headed west. He found he had a talent for cards. Perhaps his tuberculosis made him a fatalist, but whatever the reason Doc Holliday wasn’t afraid to fight with guns or knives. He drifted about the West earning a bloody reputation until, in Shanssey’s saloon in Fort Griffin, Texas, he met the only woman who mattered to him: Big Nose Kate, a doctor’s daughter who had become a frontier dance hall woman and prostitute. In the same saloon he soon met Earp.
Earp rode in from Dodge City, Kansas, on the trail of a train robber. They hit it off. Doc even helped Wyatt hunt for the bandit. Doc later rode to Dodge City to play cards with Earp; however, he discovered that Wyatt had gone to a new silver strike in a place called Tombstone, Arizona. Doc followed Earp there. All of the Earp brothers were bound for Tombstone, too. Morgan was coming in from Montana, Wyatt and James from Dodge City, and Virgil from Prescott, Arizona.
When they arrived they found that a gang in Tombstone had things their way. This gang resented the arrival of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. Old Man Clanton, his sons, Ike, Phin, and Billy, the McLaury brothers (Frank and Tom), Curly Bill Brocius, John Ringo, and more were soon to famously butt heads with the Earp family and Doc Holliday.
Events exploded in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The gunfight took place at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday October 26, 1881, in Tombstone. On one side was the law—Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holliday. On the other side was gang the Cowboys—Ike Clanton, Billy Claiborne, Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury. The shooting lasted about 30 seconds. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight unharmed. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed.
Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday would later ride together against the Cowboys in what is known as the “Earp Vendetta Ride.” The best movie that follows the complex series of gun battles and personalities is Tombstone (1993) with Kurt Russell as Wyatt and Val Kilmer as Doc; however, no movie has been completely honest about the historical events. But then, a lot of the history is in dispute. What we do know is that for better or worse, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday had such a profound friendship it passed into legend.
The Council of Croats in France filed charges against Bob Dylan. The Croats site French anti-racism laws. They point to an interview Dylan did with Rolling Stone magazine. Dylan said, “If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
Lingers from what? Genes? These thoughts about generational guilt are certainly perplexing, but in America people can laugh or shrug them away, whereas in France they can take you to court.
The group that filed the suit said they’d be happy with an apology. Meanwhile, Dylan did three concerts in Paris and was given the Legion d’Honneur decoration by the French government.
Mr. President, withhold your pardon. It’s time you dined on your Thanksgiving turkey. After all, would the starving pilgrims have pardoned a tom on the first Thanksgiving? Don’t millions of Americans settle around tables each autumn, thank the Lord for providing, and feast on turkey in celebration of the nation’s sacrifices to earn its bounty? Don’t millions of American hunters still kill their own gobblers each year, and thereby celebrate our connection with nature and our heritage? Why are you shirking all this?
It’s time, Mr. President, you broke the precedent, sharpened your axe, took that tom out to the figurative woodshed behind the White House and secured a fresh turkey dinner. Maybe even have a few foreign dignitaries over for the feast. In fact, invite anyone who needs to learn America still means business, such as Mr. Putin perhaps. Have them come along as you sharpen your axe, kill and pluck the night’s main course, and they’ll certainly learn America is still a country of men.
Besides, the precedent of padoning a turkey on Thanksgiving hardly goes back to George Washington—no old George would have carved a new set of teeth for the feast. Though live Thanksgiving turkeys have been presented intermittently to presidents since Abraham Lincoln’s administration, some say the current ceremony dates back to President Harry Truman in 1947; however, according to the Harry S. Truman Library, no records are known to exist that indicate he ever “pardoned” a turkey. President John F. Kennedy, however, is said to have spontaneously spared a turkey on Nov. 19, 1963. The tom was wearing a sign that read, “Good Eatin’ Mr. President.” And Kennedy, the old softy, reportedly said, “Let’s just keep him.”
President Dwight Eisenhower wasn’t so effeminate. Documents in the Eisenhower Presidential Library say he ate the birds presented to him. So there’s your precedent Mr. President. After all, the tom is a commercial turkey and so can’t live on its own. And, come on, do we really need another turkey on the public dole? Instead, let’s put this one to good use.
Eating the turkey would even be an act of mercy. The pardoned birds used to be sent to Virginia’s Frying Pan Park—talk about a hint. However, they’re now thrust, unbeknowest to them, into showbiz. Starting in 2005, the pardoned turkeys have been drafted to serve as public officials at either Disneyland or Disney World where they’ve been honory Grand Marshals of Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Don’t we already have enough turkeys employed as politicians? And don’t we already have enough people living under Disney-inspired fantasies?
Just think what a statement chowing down on the tom would be. With every bite Mr. President, you’d be making all your adversaries swallow their tongues.
The reason for the ammunition shortage should be obvious. After all, with gun sales continuing to break records all those people buying semiautomatic rifles and handguns need a lot of ammunition. Anyone who has used a semiautomatic rifle or handgun to shoot self-resetting steel targets knows that ammo always seems to be in short supply.
Nevertheless, finding bare shelves that have always been stacked with boxes of ammo has made some wonder if the government has been up to something. It’s easy to understand this worry. As gun sales break records—partly because of fear of coming gun control from the Obama administration—supplies of ammo ran so low that gun stores and ranges have to ration ammunition. Meanwhile, rumors of mass purchases of ammunition made by government entities began to fly around the Internet. Making all this even worse is that fact that it hasn’t been a short-term supply problem. Now well over a year since the shortages of popular types of ammo began there are still empty shelves and rationing here and there around the United States.
Mix this series of events with a media that doesn’t understand the issue enough to explain it (even if they could drop their biases long enough to try), add a pinch of understandable paranoia from some gun owners and ka-boom!
Such an explosion, in fact, that many ammo makers have felt compelled to publish explanations. Also, the National Rifle Association (NRA) felt compelled by its membership to investigate and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for gun, ammo and related businesses, decided to look into the problem. There was even a congressional hearing.
At the hearing, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs one of the House oversight subcommittees, noted that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using roughly 1,000 rounds of ammunition more per person than the U.S. Army. “It is entirely … inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition,” said Chaffetz.
Click here to see the rest of my article at Forbes.com.
For a few weeks in October New England forests are awash with an impressionist’s pastels. Soon the color drips in fallen leaves to the forest floor where grouse drum and the Robert Frost poem “October” (O hushed October morning mild; Thy leaves have ripened to the fall … .) seems to be whispered by the wind.
Now, though we’re seduced by the natural splendor, we’re careful how much we say so. Articulating such things just isn’t manly. It isn’t what hunters do. But, as I crumble under a maple on a colorful mountain, I know it isn’t just the cagey ruffed grouse that drew me north to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in late October.
I kick yellow leaves in frustration. I know too well why the word “grousing” was coined. I’d crunched down an overgrown logging road under trees shedding a rainbow of hardwood leaves and when the flush finally came the bird blasted off behind me. I turned, shot off balance and missed badly. The miss reminded me that New England grouse hunting is for masochists.
I grew up breaking brush and shouldering a gun all-of-a-sudden when this brown-and-gray game bird booms its wings and rockets up and twists away, giving glimpses when you’re fortunate. Now I’m reminded that the past can be mischievous, even a shape shifter. Time slips by but doesn’t just peel away as memories fade; no, they can also grow more golden—recollections thereby become masters of spin.
Maybe that’s what drew me north to hunt grouse. Surely I was influenced by memories whispering things like: Don’t you want to drive the meandering byways over red covered bridges? Don’t you want to see the autumn sun making color-splashed trees shine like fallen rainbows as you hunt for the explosive ruffed grouse? Come on, this is when the words from Corey Ford’s “The Road to Tinkhamtown” are tossed over a mountainous landscape; this is when grouse drum and woodcock wing through; this is when a bird dog becomes part of living art … . And so go the one-sided and awfully wistful deceptions.
Of course, I concede there must be sparks of truth in the remembrances because Corey Ford himself wrote in that elegant story: “The past never changes. You leave it and go on to the present, but it is still there, waiting for you to come back to it.”
See the rest of my article at AmericanHunter.org.
Even before Colorado voters ousted anti-gun state senators most of the county sheriffs in Colorado and New York were refusing to sit back and simply enforce bad gun laws. They’ve been standing up for you and for freedom. To understand their points of view and where the legal challenges are going, there’s no better place to start than with Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County, Colo.
“Make no mistake about where I stand in this debate,” Sheriff Cooke says with a voice so clear and resonant he could be a radio host. “The Bill of Rights was written to protect the rights of the individual, not that of the state or the federal government. I am a fervent proponent of the individual’s right to bear arms.”
Then he pauses, showing he’s an old-school rural Westerner all right. He picks his words carefully and speaks them with conviction.
But he’s hardly standing alone like Gary Cooper in “High Noon.” Actually, 55 of 64 Colorado sheriffs—Republicans and Democrats—put their names on a lawsuit filed in federal court to overturn Colorado’s new package of gun control laws (House Bills 1224 and 1229).
Colorado’s sheriffs are the elected officials who issue concealed-carry permits to applicants. Cooke believes his constituents see the new gun bans, magazine bans and more the same way he does.
“They’re with me,” he said. “The support for the position I’ve taken has been overwhelming.”
Then he deepens his tone even more and adds, “What galls me is that the Senate Democrats here in Colorado called us criminals. They sent out a Tweet—if that’s what you call it, I don’t Tweet, I speak—right after we announced we’re joining a lawsuit to overturn this unenforceable and unconstitutional gun control law.”
Cooke has a right to be insulted. The Tweet from the Colorado Senate Democrats said, “2day co sheriffs stood in opposition of CO’s new gun laws, but not w/law-abiding citizens, but with criminals.”
Click here for the rest of my article on America’s First Freedom.
“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated. ” –Ernest Hemingway, from The Old Man and the Sea
It’s been a Hemingway sort of year for me. I followed his footsteps through Paris and drank martinis in the places he did and looked on the very paintings from Paul Cezanne and more he said shaped his writing. I then went to Pamplona and ran with the bulls and saw all he wrote about in The Sun Also Rises. I went with two friends—one new and one old—to the places in the Pyrenees where Hemingway fished for trout in Spain and wrote about deceivingly in The Sun Also Rises.
Finally, I went to sea and caught tarpon and tried and tried for a marlin like Hemingway loved to do. No marlin took the bait but that’s fishing too and is a lesson from The Old Man and the Sea, a story that lets us know we can try but can’t always succeed. Like much of Hemingway’s storytelling it tells us that whether we fail or succeed it’s how we handle winning and losing that really matters. And anyway, I caught jacks, snook and more and even helped save a sea turtle from a commercial fishermen’s net.
Also, an 80-pound tarpon I fought for 20 minutes and landed along Costa Rica’s east coast made me think of another Hemingway quote from The Old Man and the Sea: “Let him think that I am more man than I am and I will be so.”
Up meandering byways, over red covered bridges, and deep in the green hills of Vermont is a small private college with some profound and sometimes forgotten things to say about training leaders for today’s military and business community.
The college is Norwich University, the oldest, private military college in the U.S. Founded in 1819, Norwich has a civilian segment in addition to its corps of cadets, both adhering to the same honor code. Most colleges today work solely on conception, but Norwich has hands-on leadership experiences that teach how to lead and solve real problems. It also has a master’s degree program that includes a “Master of Science in Leadership.”
I called Richard Schneider, Norwich University’s 68-year-old president, just after he’d completed another “Dog River Run” with his freshman class. He said, “When I can’t lead a class on the one-plus mile run through that muddy, often waist-deep river I will retire, because a leader leads from the front.”
I was happy to find he hasn’t changed. I graduated from Norwich is 1996 and was there soon after Schneider took the job as president in 1992. When you’re a cadet in a military academy you remember your leaders. I remember the Dog River Run at the end of “Rook Week.” By then my hair had been buzzed to nubs and my ego humbled by a drill sergeant. And I remembered Schneider. But I didn’t contact Schneider and others at Norwich simply for a little rah-rah nostalgia. In the years since I graduated I’ve noticed that people I’d graduated with from a suburban New York high school mostly didn’t grab their dreams; whereas the guys and gals I graduated with from Norwich have either achieved their dreams or still have that same can-do optimism they always did as they continue to try.
Now Norwich’s official motto is “I will try,” but nevertheless it seems to me there’s something more going on there than uniforms and discipline. In a country that has long talked about lost generations and youth without purpose—Ernest Hemingway’s generation was deemed the “Lost Generation” and that iconic movie starring James Dean “Rebel Without a Cause” was released in 1955—little has been done to help youth get out of their parent’s basements and earn self-esteem by achieving real things. Meanwhile, Norwich has been quietly doing something to help youth become leaders and to positively achieve their American dreams. So as I look back on my years at Norwich I know there is something going on there that more college students should get a taste of for their trillion dollar debt.
So this week, with new freshmen classes beginning their college educations all over America, I contacted Schneider to ask what he’d learned about producing leaders for an America that often seems leaderless. He said these were five keys to training and developing leaders.
1. Live by a Real Code of Honor
Norwich students follow a simple code: “I will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.” To understand how profound that short code is realize there’s a maxim so old Cicero, the Ancient Roman statesman, once called “ancient” that goes “more law equals less justice.” Norwich’s clear-cut code—the same one used by West Point—is too simple for injustice to squirm into. Put that little sentence of a code next to U.C. Berkeley’s 1,800-word code of ethics and you’ll see why lawyers just wouldn’t know what to do with Norwich’s lack of loopholes. And you’ll see how Norwich’s students are held to a higher standard others could learn from.
Click here to read the rest of my column at Forbes.com.
The starlit darkness is broken only by glow sticks zip-tied to the front and back of each person, dim headlamps pointed down so as not to disturb the night vision of other participants, tactical lights attached to firearms pointed downrange, red laser dots settling on targets, and the red muzzle flashes of guns being fired.
Kate Krueger, a gray-haired lady who would have to stand on her toes to be five feet tall, looks around and says, “I hope President Obama is using some secret surveillance program to watch us right now.”
She then giggles as she feels about the Batman-sized belt strapped around her waist, checking the placement of extra magazines for her AR-15 and her 9mm handgun and shotgun shells for her 12-gauge.
We’re at a gun range outside Bend, Ore., shooting in a 3-gun match at the Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association range, and Kate, who hosts a radio show called Talking Guns, is up next. Around us in the darkness are about 50 other journalists and television and radio hosts competing at the second annual Midnight 3-Gun Invitational on August 14. After the media are finished, about 100 pros will compete for a top prize of $10,000. Well, not pros exactly. These guys and gals (a lot of women compete in 3-gun and other shooting sports) mostly have real jobs. They’re police officers, farmers, mechanics, lawyers, and everything else. But they have earned the distinction of being good enough at this sport for Crimson Trace, a company that makes tactical lasers and other firearms equipment in Wilsonville, Ore., to invite them to this nighttime competition.
Looking around at a gun range lighted by tactical lights and lasers, I recall how the latest attempt at a gun grab fizzled like wet powder in Senator Harry Reid’s chamber. And I thought about how President Barack Obama seems to believe the reason his gun ban failed is that the National Rifle Association stuck pins in voodoo dolls of senators in some dark room in Fairfax, Va. Regardless, it’s obvious that there is a deeper reason why the gun-control machinations failed in Washington, D.C. Here, far from the Beltway, it’s clear that President Obama simply doesn’t grasp what a lot of Americans are really like. Put another way, those who “cling to their guns and religion” might just be a little more numerous than he thinks — and they certainly have more fun than he thinks.
Click here to read the rest of this article at NationalReview.com.