June 2000

Continuing Smith & Wesson Fallout

Readers who wrote me about Gun Tests’s decision to continue testing Smith & Wesson products in light of the company’s deal with the Clinton administration has elicited a steady stream of comments pro and con. To recap, we believe our subscribers are adult enough to read our articles and make their own decisions about buying or boycotting Smith products. It’s not the magazine’s place to black-out information on a company simply because we don’t like a business decision its executives have made.

However, not everyone agreed. An email from Alan Bint of Pensacola, Florida, said, “I will not renew. I just received my May issue. I was and am very disappointed in your reaction to the Smith & Wesson agreement. I feel you are making a business decision to stick with S&W and I am making a business decision to not stick with your magazine. You have let us down for the almighty dollar. Well, you won’t be getting anymore of mine.”

On the other side, just as many readers agreed with Klebert L. Hall of Providence, Rhode Island, who wrote: “I commend you on your decision to continue reviewing S&W products in your magazine. It is indeed the best course of action for a magazine devoted to impartial technical facts, and I’m pleased that politics will not interfere with your reviews. If a law-abiding person decides that a Smith & Wesson product best fits his needs, I would hate for politics to cause him to buy something inferior. Heck, lots of people buy Russian and Chinese guns. I like their politics a lot less than I like S&W’s.”

But a gun-business owner in Oldsmar, Florida, disagreed. William C. Nolte wrote, “As an FFL dealer, I cannot in good conscience re-subscribe to your Gun Tests magazine due to your stand on the [S&W] subject. For your information, I will not handle the S&W line anymore.”

Eugene Apicella of Jackson, New Jersey, took a counter position. He wrote, “Good for you! I believe that you should stick by your guns (no pun intended). Gun Tests should ignore the fluff and concentrate on the substance, as you have been doing. By the same token, if S&W continues to make a product that turns out to be superior or inferior, the market forces will dictate the rise and fall of the company, regardless of the politics of the situation.”

Edward Kelley of Los Altos, California, came right to the point. “Please cancel my subscription to Gun Tests effective immediately and refund the unused portion of the subscription price to me. I take exception to your editorial on page 2 of the May 2000 issue. Your magazine’s mission should be to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens rather than support a company such as S&W that has sold out to the Clinton/Gore administration.”

To readers Kelley, Bint, and Nolte, I can only say adieus, and good luck. When you’ve canceled your NRA membership because that organization’s magazines accept Smith’s advertising, you cancel other magazine subscriptions because you’re angry that they also carry S&W ads, and you refuse to attend shooting events or belong to clubs in which the company plays a part, then I will know, without a doubt, that Clinton has won.

-Todd Woodard