Buying Out Gun Culture? A Different Idea

CNN runs an idea from investor John MacIntosh that might change the math on gun control via capitalism.

I read this CNN editorial with some interest. In it, John MacIntosh proposes a gun control notion that, unlike most, at least has the value of novelty. He proposes a well-heeled corporate takeover group buyout of Freedom Group, the company that owns a number of American gun manufacturers. From there, he proposes this group begin a series of internal reforms such as these:

(iii) Operates the business as if sensible gun laws were in place (this may turn out to be a wise investment in future-proofing the company): discontinuing sales of the most egregious assault weapons and modifying others as necessary so they cannot take huge-volume clips; offering to buy back all Freedom Group assault weapons in circulation; micro-stamping weapons for easy tracking; and providing price discounts for buyers willing to go through a background check and register in a database available to law enforcement.

(iv) Voluntarily waives its rights to support the NRA and other lobbying groups.

(v) Creates a fund to compensate those who, despite its best efforts, are killed or wounded by its weapons.

The entire piece is worth reading, and his proposal is certainly worth considering. Myself, I lack a great deal of faith in the magic of free-market solutions to non-market problems, but I could be wrong.

What really catches my eye about this proposal is that it’s trying to address the underlying gun culture in this country in a new way. I’ve been talking and thinking a good deal about gun control lately, and an interesting notion came up in conversation recently. First, it is a fact that Americans own more guns per capita than anyone on earth, by a wide margin. Second, it is a fact that America is far more violent than any other affluent, stable nation. The fundamental premise of gun control is that the former fact causes the latter. Unfortunately, I think it may be more likely that the latter causes the former.

If there’s something in our culture or our economy or our water supply that just steeps the American brain in violence, then we’d naturally expect such a people to buy and maintain a lot of guns. Further, we’d expect the rate of violence to change independently of the number of guns owned or the level of gun control in place, which is in fact what we see in the real world. Consider that: what if we don’t kill because we’re armed, but we’re armed because we’re killers? What if there’s something fundamentally broken in our culture that won’t let us let go of violence, or at least makes it harder for us than other places?

There’s a lot of ways we could start addressing the problem in those terms, and having a major gun company start publicly challenging the assumptions about how violence is supposed to work might be a start.


Photo—Freedom Works logo with subsidiary companies

About Noah Brand

Noah Brand is a writer and editor, and quite possibly also a cartoon character from the 1930s. His life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. He is usually found in Portland, Oregon, directly underneath a very nice hat.


  1. AnonymousDog says:

    Does Mr MacIntosh think it would be profitable to run Freedom Group that way? If not, what would be the payoff to those “well heeled” investors?

    What would keep competitors from operating their gun manufactories differently? Is he proposing an attempt at some kind of gun monopoly that would completely control the market?
    The whole thing seems rather whimsical to me.

  2. What really catches my eye (or gag-reflex) is how any investment cap dude could ever believe he could alter human nature, market forces and the nature of capitalism through artificial tampering attempts. It kinda cute really…like…well…nearly every interaction flaming liberals have with nature.

    I hope Johnny Mac gets a nom-compete agreement from the principals, and the machinists, and the centers of demand, and the global markets, and the 72 competitors he’ll probably not realize existed till they smoke his bong.

    LOL….it reminds me of when someone proposed the NRA members buy-out CBS.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Upjohn could take over the narcotics industry…. Wow, this could be big!

    • Not all of it. Countries outside of the US actually have laws and surveillance to prevent an monopoly that would control the market.
      If you don’t change the law also, foreign companies will keep importing decent weapons into the US.
      Go ahead and cripple your American gun manufacturing. The civilian version of the newest model from the RK family by Sako would become an huge success.

  4. You would also have to somehow reduce imports of weapons in favour of your own if you manage to downgrade your weapon production. (Something that WTO might not like.)
    Otherwise americans will just buy better weapons made in other countries.

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