#guns

FedEx gives a lesson in corporate communications over the NRA

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CM wrote earlier in the week on the hypocrisy of corporates disassociating themselves from the NRA after the Parkland, Florida school shooting despite having decades of similar incidences to have done it. Yet their conscience never got the better of them because targeting  5,000,000 members was good for business. FedEx on the other hand has made it clear on its position with respect to gun control. Despite that it will continue to provide a service and will not be bullied, coerced or cave into activism to target members who did not commit a crime. Good on FedEx for making it clear where they stand rather than cower to social media pressure.

The adolescent media spokesman of choice, David Hogg, made very clear that he wants to hold a proverbial gun to the head of every corporate to ditch the NRA. FedEx and Amazon were also singled out as targets by the Florida student for continuing to offer discounts to the NRA. He even threatened to cancel his Amazon TV subscription because it broadcast NRATV. It is absolutely his choice to make. By all means Mr Hogg can vote however he chooses with his wallet. He should extend the same courtesy.

No one is questioning or trivializing the trauma of such a tragic event but the constant hunt to ‘shame’ people (who’ve done nothing illegal) always ends up causing those ‘shamed’ to do the opposite of the intended strategy. Many corporates could have followed FedEx’s lead. Shouldn’t it be up to individuals to freely consider whether they want to fly United, rent a Hertz car or send packages via FedEx? It is absolutely their choice to do. Most people are thinking of the function of the service at the time, not conduct pre-flight checks on whether the company has an affiliation with the NRA or any other group disliked by others.

If people are honestly abhorred by any corporate that offers discounts to the NRA then they will naturally adjust consumption patterns. 19 years since Columbine would suggest most corporates didn’t care and saw no appreciable impact to revenues by staying with the NRA. Consumers do not require people bashing them over the head to swallow a message they may already agree with or not. Surely observing the actions of those exercising unbridled volition is a superior barometer of mood over issues rather than force feeding.

Does David Hogg think he will win over NRA members by slapping them on his Twitter feed? Does Hogg seriously believe that slamming the president by branding him a coward and a draft dodger on social media will turn him, especially given his track record? If he wished to gain traction he would go far further asking to meet with Trump in the White House with his school mates and lay out a comprehensive plan to try get some leverage on the NRA. It may be a futile exercise but if he wants to show the moral high ground and win over the masses (the mainstream media would only be too happy to oblige) then acting in a manner which shows that he embodies that spirit will have a far better chance of converting others.

It will be interesting to see whether the NRA sees a surge in membership on the back of being attacked in this way. Earlier this week, a yearly membership was $30, Today it is $40. Could it be the hike is on the back of overwhelming support? Surely a club that is hemorrhaging members would be cutting prices to stay afloat.

The group published a membership recruitment drive which was viewed over 10 million times this week. The idea that all of the members at the NRA are deranged gun-toting lunatics incapable of listening to sensible suggestions is quite an accusation but often made. This was its response to those corporates that dumped it:

NRA STATEMENT ON CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS

(FAIRFAX, VA) – The more than five million law-abiding members of the National Rifle Association have enjoyed discounts and cost-saving programs from many American corporations that have partnered with the NRA to expand member benefits.

Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community. We are men and women who represent every American ethnic group, every one of the world’s religions and every form of political commitment.

The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.

Despite that, some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice. In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.

Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.

Having said all of the above, the voting down of a tax break for Delta Airlines by the Senate in the State of  Georgia which openly admitted that it was punishment for cutting sponsorship ties with the NRA was no less juvenile. No doubt many might view this as the NRA cashing in on favours for all those donations. Whether they played a direct hand is not determined. This is the political class trivializing sensitive matters. Cut Delta’s support for the right reasons but not because it made a commercial decision, no matter how daft the reasoning.

While we should be reflecting on the memories of 17 students that died from senseless gun violence and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again, we see that Mr Hogg and others believe that holding a metaphorical gun to peoples’ heads is the way to fix the problem. It is a sad lesson for society today. Sensible debate can’t be had with threats of coercion or aggression. Introducing ‘common sense’ gun laws requires compromise and the freedom to express opinions, no matter how absurd. All this threatening behaviour sends either party to the debate to the opposite side of the room.

Ridding the country of guns and taking homicides to zero would be a Utopian dream. That is a matter for voters to get the law changed. The irony is that tighter gun laws could have been pushed through under the Obama administration, which had majorities in the lower and upper houses. It didn’t. Clearly Democrats didn’t view it as a priority at the time.

N.B. CM is not debating the rights and wrongs of the NRA’s activity or their positions. None-the-less the fact it has 5 million members shows that it has a following and is well organized. Were it a complete crackpot organization then people would be leaving it in droves. Seems like the opposite is occurring. That would probably be a factor for so many corporates signing up in the first place. FedEx hasn’t forgotten that. It is hard not to agree with the way it handled the debate – We dislike your views on guns but we observe the legal rights surrounding them. CM congratulates FedEx for its candor on the matter.

Teachers with guns – 44% of Americans support it. Texas already does it

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A CBS Newspoll showed 44% of people (68% of Republicans, 47% of Independents & 20% of Democrats) were in favour of arming teachers at school. In some schools it already exists. This sign is from Argyle High School in Texas. The teachers pack heat. They are required to go through thorough background checks, training which simulates armed attackers and carry permits. Officials at Argyle and other districts in Texas say the policies deter shooters and provide peace of mind, and that other schools should follow their lead by allowing teachers to carry arms. In Texas, school boards must approve the arming of teachers. 170 districts allow employees and in some cases board members to carry firearms, according to the Texas Association of School Boards which equates to 22% of the state’s public school districts allow staff to carry guns, according to the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University.

As foreign as the concept is to arm teachers , we must not forget that c.10% of schools in the US already have metal detectors to prevent weapons entering the classroom. Indeed a teacher being misidentified as a threat rather than a first responder by SWAT snipers because he or she was firing the weapon in a crisis is a real risk. Moreover many teachers just want to teach. If a student on a rampage knew certain teachers were locked and loaded perhaps they would make themselves initial targets. Surely teachers know this. Still we must assume any teacher bearing arms will do so willingly. Accepting an incentive bonus to do so is still an act of choice.

However it is worth considering that many schools (even schools in other countries) have armed guards at the gates. Schools are generally not fenced or walled in ways that allow singular access. Fire hazards would mean multiple entry/exit points are mandatory. So unless schools are prepared to put multiple guards at multiple access points, school safety will theoretically be compromised. So in order to protect school kids from the risk of future massacres, in the light of this strict adherence to the 2nd Amendment (despite the Democrats’ ability to amend it under Obama), solutions seem rather restricted to seemingly outlandish suggestions of arming teachers.

As written in earlier pieces, dealing with the cause of gun massacres is just as if not more important than outlawing guns themselves. The soaring incidence of broken homes, addiction to prescription drugs leading to narcotics abuse and antidepressants are elements of a decaying society. Merely banning weapons (as much as such programs have worked in Australia) won’t stop a growing problem of mentally unstable people who want to right their subjective view of injustices caused. The use of knives, bombs, cars or other means to perpetrate massacres will be found to replace guns. The other problem is that state laws are so different that navigating a common path is even more convoluted than calculus. Still, the idea that the media is pushing to say that arming teachers is widely rejected is patently untrue.

Japan exported 90,000 firearms to the US in 2015

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Peace loving Japan exported just shy of 90,000 civilian rifles and shotguns to the USA in 2015, up from 49,000 in 2010. This makes Japan the 11th largest gun exporter to America. Reading through the list of Japanese makers, Howa Corp (6203 JP) said its weapons sales (domestic military and overseas civilian) hit around JPY3.3bn last financial year, a drop of 25.7%. It is  expecting another 10% drop this year due to sluggish domestic sales. Weapons make up 18% of the group’s revenue with machinery the bulk of turnover at 42%. The shares have performed pretty well despite the 17%YoY decline in group revenues and Y437mn loss in March 2017. Although in March 2018 fiscal year Howa is expecting a 11% rebound in revenue at Y20.5bn and Y330mn operating profit.

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The firearms division is expected to be the biggest drag on profits at -Y190mn in the coming fiscal year. The company is hoping that its real estate investment division will be the big prop up in the turn around at +Y370mn for FY3/18. For all the good will in the company seems to be ripe for a restructuring. The Japanese language business plan can be seen here. It is a stock that trades by appointment but it smells of a company in need of direction.