Jack Benny was an old time comic, old in the sense of physical age and old in the sense of a long time ago. Part of his shtick was to insist on playing the violin, loudly, persistently and badly. In his personal life, his love of the violin and desire to play, far exceeded his abilities.
What made me think of Jack Benny and his conflicted relationship with the violin? It is very much the same as my relationship with writing. I love writing, but writing only wants to be friends. In fact, I often find myself listening to the Vanilla Fudge rendition of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, when I find myself staring at a blank page, unable to think of a way to alter its condition.
I’d like to think, what I lack in writing skills, I make up for a bit with analytical skills, persistence and integrity. If I do not see it, if I do not believe it, I do not write it. In fact, I would stop writing about firearms if becoming a factory happy face was a requirement. In my twenty five years of writing about firearms, I have found firearm manufacturers, in general, to be extremely respectful in keeping their distance from writers. They answer tech or marketing questions, then go away.
Firearms that are subject in my work come from multiple sources. I write about my personal firearms, I will occasionally purchase a firearm of particular interest, I will request a firearm from a manufacture’s press liaison if I think it will be of interest to readers. Firearms supplied by manufacturers are classified “Test & Evaluation”, they are loaned from a manufacturer’s writers’ pool and returned to the manufacturer within 60-90 days.
Why would a company loan their product to a writer? Well, if they have confidence in the product, they see this as an inexpensive opportunity for exposure. In our case, reach is the RealGuns.Com subscriber base, site visitors to the Free Library and 2+ million Facebook followers. The manufacturer ships the gun to us, we evaluate and write, then we return the firearm immediately without comment.
We do not keep firearms, we do not receive any compensation of any type from the manufacturer, and we provide no advanced information to them on any reviews; good review, not so good review.
I have written about Smith & Wesson’s firearms frequently over the past twenty-five years, both personal firearms and T&E firearms. We have no content agreements with them, we receive no compensation from them, and they do not advertise or otherwise provide support to Real Guns. Apparently, the move to Tennessee caused a significant change in staffing and assignments, and our long standing contact elected not to make the move.
There was a transition, we received a new liaison person, who reported one of their new 22 Mag pistols we had requested was on the way. A few days later, we received a packaged agreement, complete with graphic. Misstating an FTC rule, S&W insisted we place the graphic at the close of any articles regarding Smith & Wesson that displays their logo and the message “Sponsored By Smith & Wesson”.
The definition of sponsor is “an individual or organization that pays some or all of the costs involved in staging a sporting or artistic event in return for advertising”. So Smith & Wesson, an $855 million enterprise, wants to avail itself of our trademarks, publication, readership, time, labor, materials, and create the illusion they are contributing to our operation. Perhaps they confused us with one of their social media influencers?
We explained to Smith & Wesson that we are an independent company and they are not supporting us. However, we were willing to note at the end of any article, where it applies, that a firearm was a short term loan from S&W for test and evaluation to satisfy any of their FTC concerns. Of course, that was not agreeable to Smith & Wesson, because it spelled out the minimal association with S&W, and did not feed a false benevolent S&W presence.
The FTC regulation they cite, to pressure our compliance, applies only when something of significant value is given, or loaned over the long term, in exchange for work product. The FTC offers the example of an expensive automobile loaned for a year to a reviewer.
Quite frankly, S&W’s attempt at forcing a publication to credit them, where no credit is due, is disgusting and we are not going to comply. So goodbye Smith & Wesson. I apologize to readers, but I am too old to put up with this bullshit. They make very good products. Unfortunately, that quality is lost when it comes to organization.
Guns, not politics
As a publicly traded company, Smith & Wesson largest shareholders are some of the most active anti gun investment companies. The SEC 13 D filing indicated below means an investor holds more than 5% of the company’s stock and they intend to actively pursue a change in the company’s business strategy.
“Smith & Wesson Brands Inc (US:SWBI) has 339 institutional owners and shareholders that have filed 13D/G or 13F forms with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). These institutions hold a total of 29,995,742 shares. Largest shareholders include BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group Inc, Dimensional Fund Advisors Lp, Renaissance Technologies Llc, UBS Group AG, VTSMX – Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Investor Shares, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, IWM – iShares Russell 2000 ETF, Geode Capital Management, Llc, and Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc .
Smith & Wesson Brands Inc (NASDAQ:SWBI) institutional ownership structure shows current positions in the company by institutions and funds, as well as latest changes in position size. Major shareholders can include individual investors, mutual funds, hedge funds, or institutions. The Schedule 13D indicates that the investor holds (or held) more than 5% of the company and intends (or intended) to actively pursue a change in business strategy. Schedule 13G indicates a passive investment of over 5%.
The share price as of August 25, 2023 is 12.21 / share. Previously, on August 29, 2022, the share price was 13.59 / share. This represents a decline of 10.15% over that period.”