Apparently supporting Barack Obama is enough to cost you your job if your job happens to involve making guns. When Dan Cooper, the co-founder and president of Montana-based Cooper Firearms, told reporters he supported Obama, he probably didn't expect he would be forced to resign. But an internet-fueled uproar and the threat of a boycott led to the Board of Directors asking for Cooper's resignation late last week. Hearing the story, Montana's Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer (who also supports Obama) interrupted an elk-hunting trip to offer his help:
"I said, 'Look, I will support Cooper Firearms in their sales promotions. I will go to vendors. I will go state to state. I will help you sell the firearms, if you think the governor of Montana can help you close some deals,'" Schweitzer said.
The governor said Friday he will do what he can to help the company and its 40 employees overcome any lingering backlash.
"For the couple of weeks that lead up to an election, it's almost like Halloween, a lot of the goblins are out," Schweitzer said. "Things will cool down, they always will."
Cooper Firearms better hope "things cool down." Many gun dealers, including Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse, are already canceling orders after being threatened with boycotts. The canceled orders mean Cooper is now in very serious trouble: losing Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse, its two biggest accounts, could threaten the very existence of the 38-employee company. So it's no surprise that the company's board felt it had to ask Cooper to resign.
Gun owners, pushed along by the NRA, have leaned Republican for decades. Obviously they think that protecting their Second Amendment rights is very important. But the attack on Cooper seems like a big overreaction. Second Amendment activists just won a huge Supreme Court case, District of Columbia v. Heller, that will make it very hard to implement any meaningful restrictions on guns, no matter who is President. And Obama, for the record, has said he believes the constitution grants an individual right to bear arms. And even if Obama does secretly want to ban handguns, it seems highly unlikely that it would be anywhere near the top of his agenda. It's just too politically risky. Dan Cooper probably realized all this. But realizing that his Second Amendment rights are more than likely safe under an Obama administration will come as cold comfort to Cooper if his choice for President ends up costing 38 people their jobs.