Rock River Arms blames the messenger because they can’t handle the message

I miss the good ol’ days when companies operated with a sense of honor.

When they screwed up, they’d take responsibility, admit their mistakes, ask for their customers’ forgiveness and forbearance and then move forward.

Rock River Arms and their neighbor Springfield Armory have been embroiled in an ongoing controversy of their own making ever since it was learned they donated tens of thousands of dollars — either knowingly or unknowingly — to anti-gun Illinois politicians. They’d hoped the pols would carve them out of a horrible anti-gun bill, SB-1657 which, among other bad things, would require Illinois gun dealers to be licensed by the state.

The two firms’ shenanigans were outed by The Truth About Guns.

The way Springfield Armory responded to the PR crisis was, until now, the worst I’ve ever seen. But Rock River Arms’ response just set a much, much lower bar.

Our good friend Mark Walters, host of Armed American Radio, had Rock River Arms general manager Sarah Larson on his Sunday “Monster Show.”  (Here’s a link to the podcast.)

I had high hopes for her and Rock River Arms. I really hoped she’d do the right thing.

At the very minimum, I hoped she’d admit her firm made a mistake.

Boy, was I wrong.

Larson first said Rock River Arms had broken ties with the Illinois Firearms Manufacturing Association — which is only a four member board. Rock River Arms had one seat. Springfield  Armory had two, and their now-fired lobbyist held the fourth IFMA directorship.

This was a bit disingenuous because, basically, both companies were distancing themselves from themselves.

And then the attack began.

Larson took after the good folks at The Truth About Guns, which she referred to as an “activist website.”

“This boils down to a small, so-called gun-rights activist website that took the majority of things out of context, to make it sound like Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory were IFMA,” she said. “We did not have control over all actions. IFMA acted autonomously on our behalf.”

I’ve said this before: If the two firms didn’t know how their money was being spent, they should have known. When it comes to funneling funds to anti-gun politicians, ignorance is never an excuse.

Larson then decried Illinois politics, which have almost become a blood sport.

“I can’t get into all the details of the politics, as this is still a very real threat,” she told Mark. “Now, we are left with partial truth and fake news driving wedges between the different parts of our firearms community.”

Personally, the only wedge-drivers I’ve seen are Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory, and it’s high time they knock it off!

“Now, we are all working against one another,” Larson said. “How can one call themselves a Second Amendment activist when all they do is take things out of context, present half-truths and, seemingly and purposefully, create conflict within the firearms community.”

Larson said she was perplexed by the “bandwagon” jumpers, as her firm had no history of bad acts.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, and we certainly didn’t intend to do it now,” she said. “We weren’t involved with the decisions being made, and we learned about it when everyone else did.”

Larson said the firearms community must “stay unified and continue to fight for our gun rights.”

And then she fired her final salvo: “We cannot allow a small group of Second Amendment activists to continue to drive wedges and spread fake news among our firearms community.”

Whew!

After listening to Larson’s statement, twice, a couple things came to mind.

First, it appears as though she’s operating with some type of outdated misconception about public relations.

Her if you can’t handle the message, shoot the messenger attempt at damage control doesn’t work. It’s just misdirection and spin — very transparent misdirection and spin. And since her offender is The Truth About Guns, it’s patently false and almost laughable.

TTAG’s staffers did nothing wrong and should be lauded for their public service.

If they hadn’t outed the shenanigans, Rock River Arms and Springfield Armory would likely not be spending thousands of dollars — right now — to defeat this extremely anti-gun legislation.

In my humble opinion, what the activists did is pretty damn far from half-truths or fake news. Actually, the gun community could use a lot more of this type of activism.

TTAG has a cracker-jack team of writers and subject-matter experts. The BS Larson spouted about them says more about her and her firm’s desperation than it does TTAG.

One more thing: Kudos to Mark Walters for getting Rock River Arms on the record.

A lot of us have tried.

Mark succeeded.

I just wish they had something substantive to say.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

24 Comments

  1. Bravo Lee, I’m in complete agreement. LOL “fake news”, whatever. They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar and the only thing these 2 companies are sorry about is that they got caught. Wrong answer.

  2. I have to agree with the statement that if these manufacturers didn’t know where their money was going, they should have. How does anyone do anything in the business world without knowing where their money is going? Okay, they either got screwed by their lobbyist or they tried to cut a deal with the devil and got caught. If either is the case, then man-up and take responsibility, then go all out to make things right. Quit blaming TTAG, or any other 2A information source for doing what we all in the gun owner’s community expect them to do . . . keep us informed.

    This is a very different time from the 60’s and 70’s when Americans had a limited number of gun manufacturers to buy good quality guns from. Now there are hundreds of quality guns on the market, from scores of reputable manufacturers. Both SA and RR are good products, but they are not all that much more special than a lot of other guns out there, and they sure aren’t so irreplaceable in my or anyone elses armory that I can’t get by without buying anything else from them. In today’s world, the only opinion that seems to matter is the one connected to your wallet. So express your opinion that way. And if you really have to have a SA or RR, then find a good used example of what you want so they don’t get any further benefit from your purchase.

    Just my opinion.

  3. TTAG….hahahaha, the pot calling the kettle black.

    A yeat ago or so TTAG blocked me from commenting at their site. THEY couldn’t handle any challenge or question to THEIR stories. Spare me the TTAG holier-than-thou crap. They are no better than Rock River Arms IMO.

    • There’s a lot of trash talking that survives on TTAG and I should know because I do a lot of it. If you got blocked you must be a real piece.

      • I had to grin when I read your response comment. and I agree with you. It takes a lot to get banned from TTAG.

  4. Maury A Herrera on

    Agreed totally..If your not part of the solution your part of the problem.All these cooked companies pour out money that causes damage and then they say I didn’t do it .Like the kid that broke the window then hides his hand.Well when my kids did anything and lied about it they got twice the ass kicking for doing the wrong thing and than for lying about it.

  5. Son of Liberty on

    Both RRA and SAI must be boycotted into bankruptcy, if for no other reason than to serve as a cautionary tale for other future would be sell outs. The bigger picture, beyond Illinois, is that giving these fascist anti gunners this win gives momentum for duplication in other states.

  6. Pingback: Quote of the Day – Rock River Arms: We Were the Victim of Fake News! | Firearms Life

  7. It looks to me as if the deliberately set this lobby group up eith plausible deniability jn mind – and did a rotten job of it.

  8. The entire purpose of IFMA was to lobby and dole out cash. They didn’t make widgets and they werem’t making Apps. They greased plams to get their way and to say that the top 4 folks comprising of one RRA, two SA’s, and a lawyer honcho didn’t know where the money was going is a real whopper.

  9. I WAS willing to accept an apology and some good old fashioned make it up to me from those companies, maybe. But now it’s clear to me they are unrepentant and must be driven out of business. If it were up to me they would be cast out and exiled to California.

  10. KEVIN RODRIGUEZ on

    Gotta love the gun community. Most of us would be willing to forgive and forget if SA and RRA would just man up and make things right. But these comments are the exact opposite. It seems that the only ones driving a wedge between the gun community is RRA with their stance, trying to make TTAG sound like some fringe group of lunatics to save themselves from some embarrasement for getting caught. What motives would TTAG have? Kudos to them for holding these manufacturers accountable.

  11. It’s not just that they lied or tried to accuse TTAG (falsely) of inaccurate reporting. I am most offended that RRA thinks we are too stupid to do a little research. Are we to really believe that an organization that was comprised of 3 entities wrote all of these checks of its own accord? If Springfield didn’t do it and RRA didn’t do it, they let a lobbyist act unfettered without oversight. So either they are irresponsible or their pants are on fire.

    We say all the time that guns don’t stand up and shoot themselves. Well, checks don’t write themselves either.

    This is such a disingenuous way for RRA to handle the situation. I expect better from our little corner of capitalism.

  12. Unbelievable.

    RRA should know that the gun community is one of the last bastions that requires, I’ll say it again, REQUIRES accountability and integrity. Why? Being a shooter and firearms owner also requires these things.

    Firearms owners know in their gut/heart/conscience/whatever…that it was wrong. They know deep down in a place they can’t quite put their finger on, that what SA and RRA did was wrong. I say good. Good! This is a measure of whether you still have what it takes to not only be a firearms owner and active member of a broad community of defenders of the republic. Do you honestly think the political games, or more specifically, the rabidly anti-gun pols in Chicago give 2 bits about the prosperity of the republic, or even the ferocious protection of our natural right to protect our own lives?

    If they did, they would have probably been a little more involved, in tune with their community, and in our faces with apologies when this was discovered.

    SA disabled Facebook reviews for Pete’s sake, and THEN waited 2 days to even respond.

    Good riddance to these companies. My heart is saddened for the genuinely great people that work for these snakes; however, we are lessened for what they gave to the tyrants in Illinois.

  13. Having lived there for 20 years I know Illinois politics is very very dirty, like Wash DC would (will?) be if they had total leftist control of everything.
    Understanding Illinois politics I can see why RRA and SA were spending money on cutting backroom deals via lobbyists – that’s how it works there. However, when the money you are spending is to exempt yourself from legislation that will infringe upon your chosen product line then you are rolling the dice to hope you’re not caught and exposed for your hypocrisy. Once exposed like this you aren’t going to spin, lie and obfuscate your way out of it.
    RRA and SA took the path of Illinois “politics as usual” disregarding the fact that doing so, if caught, would irritate about 90% of the people they want to buy their products.
    Fess up, apologize, throw your money the right (2A) way, Illinois politics be damned and cast yourself begging for mercy at the hands of your prospective customer base. Remove your cranium from your rectum and realize that the rest of America ain’t quite as gullible as the people of Illinois who keep voting in Democrats (D) and Democrats Lite (R).

  14. Patrick Henry, the 2nd on

    Sweet jeez! They both did a terrible job of PR in the first 5 days, and it took them too long to leave IFMA. But after that, it seemed like they were doing the right thing.

    And then they come out with this junk. No, its not about “a small group of activists” causing issues. It was about SA and RRA either not having oversight with their lobbying group (not good), or them knowing what was going on (terrible). I am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it seems like they don’t want it.

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