Ronnie Barrett–gunmaker, partriot, hero

We live in a world in which the bottom line trumps all–the idea of a corporation putting principles ahead of profits seems quaint and naïve. The gun rights deprivation lobby would have us believe that the gun industry is among the very worst culprits in this profit-motivated abdication of social and moral responsibility. Ronnie Barrett, of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc., shows us that the idea that gun manufacturers amorally seek profit at any price is a myth, perpetuated by the anti-gun zealots.

In the early 1980’s, Mr. Barrett pioneered the commercial production of long range rifles, chambered for the powerful .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun (.50 BMG) cartridge. I’ve talked about these rifles before, mentioning that their vast cost, huge bulk and weight, punishing recoil, and other factors make them extremely unsuitable for the commission of crimes (which might explain their almost total absence from crime statistics, and the fact that not a single documented death in the U.S. has been attributed to shots fired from such rifles). They are, however, quite useful (for specialized purposes) to the military, and have found a niche in the civilian market with wealthy target shooters who like to shoot at ranges that would be sheer fantasy for rifles of lesser caliber.

In 2004, anti-gun zealots in the California legislature showed their nearly absolute imperviousness to logic, and passed a law banning private ownership of these firearms in the state of California. Ronnie Barrett could have moved on, realizing that California is only one state (and perhaps the most rabidly anti-gun state in the union), and further realizing that he would still be able to sell to police departments (some large city SWAT teams find the big guns useful). There may, in fact, have been a larger market in California in the law enforcement sector than among private citizens. Barrett, however, had other ideas. It is illegal to knowingly sell firearms to criminals, and the California government, by instituting and enforcing the unconstitutional ban on private ownership of these rifles, has itself become a criminal enterprise. This being the case, Barrett has refused to sell any more rifles to any agency of the California governement (including municipal police departments), and will not perform any servicing on guns purchased by these agencies before the ban.

That is moral courage, and it constitutes a stand that will cost him a considerable sum in lost sales, but it’s a stand that principle and morality dictated.

More recently, Barrett has introduced a brand new rifle caliber (and has started offering rifles chambered for it). This caliber, the .416 Barrett, although smaller than the .50 BMG, is still quite powerful, and capable of useful accuracy at ranges even greater than the capabilities of the .50 BMG. Even better, it is completely legal in California (at least until the gun haters ban it, too), so private citizens in California may buy it freely, while no agency of California government will be able to (because of Mr. Barrett’s courageous stand).

Ronnie Barrett is a true patriot, and is a worthy American hero.

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