Reporting on gun businesses amid heightened awareness of gun violence.
The week after March for our Lives protests energized gun control advocates around the country, we published an article about the city of Redmond's efforts to grow a cluster of firearms-related businesses.
The story, which also appears in our April print issue, profiled several firearms manufacturers that had relocated to the Central Oregon community, and included comments from the regional economic development team about their strategy in luring firearms-related businesses.
The article drew pushback from some readers, who felt the story was poorly timed:
Why did we publish a story on gun businesses? And why did we publish the story as calls for gun control intensify?
We are a business journalism outlet, and we chronicle economic development strategies around the state. We don't promote those strategies; we document their existence and put them in context of social, economic and political trends.
In this case, we learned several traded-sector firearms-related businesses had relocated to Redmond in recent years, drawn in part by the community’s conservative, gun-friendly culture.
Among other things, the cluster illustrates the urban/rural divide that has come to define so many debates in this country.
We think it is important to document the attitudes of people and businesses across the political spectrum. We also think it’s important to document moments of commonality. Here are a few quotes that did not make it into the print version:
“I’m all for implementing better ways to ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns don’t have them." — Joshua Underwood, Radian Weapons.
“There’s a problem with the system, and it has cost a lot of lives." — Larry Myers, Colfax Tactical
“I can be pro-second amendment and I can also hate all of this gun violence." — Sharon Preston, Ladies of Lead Group Therapy
Home on the Range shines a spotlight on one group of stakeholders in the gun control debate. This article coincides with a national era of reckoning around gun violence, mounting concern over rural economic development and a widening gap between rural and urban Americans.
In that context, we believe the timing of the story was spot on.