Industry Support of Rights

The Knox Update

From the Firearms Coalition

The Firearms Industry and the Second Amendment

By Chris Knox

What follows is an excerpt from Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War, a compilation of columns and essays by my late father Neal Knox.

“The State of New York about a year ago enacted a very drastic firearms law, known as the Sullivan law.  This law was intended to stop crime, and statistics show that there has been more crime in that state than ever.  Crime conditions even got so bad that enterprising concerns in New York are issuing insurance policies against loss by holdups.  The presidents of seven burglar insurance companies have petitioned the state legislature to repeal the Sullivan Law.”

There’s no doubt what that writer would think about New York’s law today, almost three-quarters of a century after he wrote that pamphlet “Concerning Revolver Legislation.”

He wrote:  “Every little while some legislature or some city council presents an ordinance regulating the sale of firearms, thinking such regulation will stop crime.  In every instance, it doesn’t accomplish the purpose sought.

“These laws and ordinances have only the effect of stopping the sale of firearms in legitimate channels….  If all the firearms were put into a furnace and destroyed, it would not be two weeks before burglars, holdup men or lawless characters would have firearms, thus putting the law-abiding citizen at a disadvantage.

“No legitimate dealer sells burglar tools, but burglars have them and use them, which is evidence that they cannot be prevented from securing implements necessary to their lawless trade.”

The writer was absolutely right.  He didn’t identify himself, but I suspect he was the owner or manager of Fred Biffar & Company, 180 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, which printed the piece.

I received a copy of the pamphlet from Dwight Glen of the Blackhawk Gun and Auto Club, Strattanville, Pennsylvania, who found it in a stack of invoices and letters, all dated 1913, in a long-closed hardware store.

We share the frustration of the writer, who wrote:  “The second amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:  ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’  This is plain English language and understood by people who read English and there should be no question as to what it does mean.

“We believe the legislature may have the right to regulate the carrying of firearms on the person, but not the right to regulate the sale of the same….  Law-abiding citizens of the United States should have the right to purchase a firearm to protect home, family, life, property and liberty….”

Maybe the writer was just a clerk with Biffar & Co. who was determined to protect our gun rights.  And maybe he did more than he or we will ever know, plugging a trickle before it became a torrent.

When you study your guns, think of him, and those like him who have made it possible for us to own firearms.  And do your part so law-abiding citizens can enjoy guns years from now.

Neal Knox

December 28, 1986

My Editor’s Note in the book goes into some detail showing that the pro-rights position of Biffar & Co. was not the scribbling of a lone clerk, but rather was long-standing company policy.  A later edition of the Biffar catalog dedicated a full, precious page to a similar editorial.

The Sullivan Law was aimed squarely at the heart of Biffar’s business.  Their buyers were not the upscale clientele who could afford to comply with, or could safely ignore the law to buy and carry their fancy Colt’s or Smith & Wesson pistols.  The law sought to put Biffar out of business by disarming the people who bought their wares.

That Biffar had an economic interest in selling affordable guns is perfectly excusable.  They were defending their livelihood.  That’s the way the system works.  The market rewards those who satisfy a need.  When law distorts the market, it’s certainly acceptable to push back on the law through the political process.  It’s what the First Amendment is all about.

Biffar & Co. passed into oblivion in the Great Depression, but gun owners should recognize the spirit of Biffar when we see it.   Do you know a company that has perhaps foregone a short-term profit in order to support the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?  Or perhaps incurred an expense?

We have some ideas, but we’re looking for yours first.  Drop a note to us through The Firearms Coalition web site (, or if you’re feeling nostalgic, put pen to paper and send us a note.  We’ll report back your suggestions and consider how to recognize service to the Second Amendment by a commercial enterprise.


Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included.    Text is available at  To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.

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