Vermont Gun Store Blames Layoff on Obama, Reminds Us of Gun Reform Failures

A gun importer in Vermont who blames President Barack Obama for the recent layoff of 41 employees, actually makes a decent argument for why the White House is responsible for the cutbacks.

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A gun importer in Vermont that blames President Barack Obama for the recent layoff of 41 employees, actually makes a decent argument for why the White House is responsible for the cutbacks. It also shows how short the government has fallen when it comes to delivering on the gun control reforms promised after the tragic Sandy Hook shooting.

According to the Associated Press, Fairfax's Century International Arms was unable to import close to $30 million worth of vintage rifles from South Korea because of a an executive action signed by the president last summer. The Huffington Post explained at the time:

One new policy will bar military-grade weapons that the U.S. sells or donates to allies from being imported back into the U.S. by private entities. In the last eight years, the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to come back to the U.S., the White House said, arguing that some end up on the streets. From now on, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.

Fox News further explained that the ban, which was announced in August (in addition to one that would prevent people from avoiding a background check by registering guns to a corporation), came "after Congress declined to pass any gun control legislation earlier this year despite an aggressive White House push for action in the wake of the Newton, Conn., shooting massacre." The bans were seen as an effort to keep gun control on the agenda after a failure to significantly shift the status quo following the Sandy Hook tragedy, and in the midst of increased panic about how to handle the crisis in Syria.

At the time, onlookers said antique dealers would be sure to take issue with the ban. And, indeed, yesterday Century posted a statement online blaming the government for thwarting its import plans, and forcing it to significantly cut its staff: 

Unfortunately and unexpectedly, The White House intervened at the last minute and blocked this importation. This importation was denied despite our explaining that the denial would harm the company and pointing out that there is no rational, gun-control reason to block the importation of these historic, 70-year-old firearms. 

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Peter Shumlin (both Democrats) wrote a letter to the president on behalf of Century, arguing that the deal had received approval before the law was passed, and that it should be honored. They wrote:

This lawful pending retransfer agreement is important to Vermont's economy and crucial to more than 200 Vermonters who are employed by Century Arms. Accordingly, we ask your assistance to return the retransfer request to the Department of State without object so that it may move forward through the importation process.

The situation does seem grim for the retailer, though it's not clear if Century had the opportunity to walk back the deal after the ban was announced nearly a year ago.

Though some of Century's fans used the opportunity to comment on the company's Facebook page that the incident is "just another example of Obama using government agencies to target gun importers and sellers," and to point out that "AZzholes in charge do not care about small biz or anyone with guns," this seems like a better opportunity to think about the gun laws that managed to take effect last year — and those that didn't. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said, following Elliot Rodger's deadly shooting spree in California last week, that the victims' families cries for action return the nation to the days following Sandy Hook, "when it seemed like we were on the verge of, potentially, legislation that would stop the madness and end the insanity."

Instead, in the estimation of the professional gun-sellers at Century, "we fully expect that the industry-wide downturn in demand from government, law enforcement and consumer customers will rebound in the coming months."

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Senator Richard Blumenthal is from California. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.