Gun Control: Remington Rejects Navajo Nation Bid

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Yesterday, Dealbook’s Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a column discussing the Navajo Nation’s bid to buy firearms maker Remington, A Surprising Bid for Remington, and an Unsurprising Rejection— as a backdoor way of achieving some degree of gun control.

The company has recently emerged from bankruptcy. In May last year, Sorkin had written an earlier column, with this exhorting headline, Please, Please Buy This Gun Company that foreshadowed the terms of the Navajo Nation’s bid :

More tantalizing is a pie-in-the-sky idea: whether a beneficent billionaire, like Michael R. Bloomberg, could buy the company and either try to transform it or shut it down — a sort of philanthropic euthanasia in the name of gun control.

According to PitchBook, in Remington rejects ~$500M bid from Navajo Nation:

Cerberus Capital Management spent nearly a decade searching for someone—anyone—to buy Remington Outdoor before the maligned gunmaker filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Additionally, the same source continues:

Cerberus handed over control of Remington earlier this year to creditors including Franklin Templeton Investments and JPMorgan Chase as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The firm acquired its stake in the arms dealer in 2007 as part of a deal that merged Remington into a larger gun-industry entity called Freedom Group.

Navajo Nation Bid

There’s not been little additional original reporting on the issue– and that which has appeared, largely regurgitates aspects of Sorkin’s account.  I’ve not managed to find a copy of the bid, so, unfortunately, my discussion must rely on Sorkin.

Navajo Nation, which Sorkin describes as “one of the largest Native American tribes in the country with more than 350,000 members and land holdings of more than 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah” controls a $3.3 billion investment trust.

The Navajo Nation has made an all cash offer of between $475 and $525 million. According to the Dealbook account:

The Navajo Nation’s plan for Remington was novel: It intended to shift the company away from its consumer business, including curtailing the sale of the AR-15-style weapons frequently used in mass shootings, to focus on police and defense contracts.

The tribe planned to use profits from those businesses to invest in research and development of advanced “smart guns” — those with fingerprint or other technology intended to prevent anyone but the gun’s owner from using the weapon. Smart guns have so far failed to make much headway at the major gun manufacturers, which have faced pressure from groups like the National Rifle Association.

It’s not clear that the tribe’s proposal would have worked, of course. But the Navajo Nation would have had an advantage in sales for police and military contracts. Not only must a certain percentage of government business go to minority-owned companies, but the Native American Incentive Act also confers certain other advantages, according to the American Bar Association.

The only guns the Navajo Nation planned to sell to consumers were long guns like rifles and shotguns used by hunters.

“Navajo is a community of veterans and people of the land,” the tribe’s lawyer, Drew Ryce, said in an email. “We are indifferent to the AR-15 and happy to leave that business behind.”

Also relevant is the Navajos’ plans for Remington to create jobs on the reservation:

“Navajo has over 70 percent unemployment,” Mr. Ryce wrote. “Over the next few years we would shift the assembly (i.e. lesser trained) parts of the business onto the reservation.”

Over the longer term, he said, the tribe would have created the kinds of small machining operations that supply many parts to the company. “We would establish this specific machining of specific parts on-reservation and assemble and ship the products on-reservation,” Mr. Ryce said.

To put this in context, as The Navajo Post reports:

To address high unemployment, Navajo leaders have long sought to bring manufacturing jobs to the reservation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah

I include a map here, as I don’t think many readers– US or otherwise– who aren’t already familiar with this part of the country grasp just how large the sovereign territory controlled by the tribe is (even though the extent of that geographic control isn’t really relevant to this discussion).

Source: The Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, Where is the Navajo Nation?

What is more germane is that despite the rise of a student-driven gun control movement– including large protests nationwide protests earlier this year–  gun control remains stymied in the US– long after other countries have adopted drastic changes in the wake of massacres (e.g., Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996; Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1996).

I note that although discussion of the Navajo Nation Remington bid has yet to achieve even limited traction in the US MSM– despite the DealBook assist–  at least one foreign journalist appears regards these efforts as evidence of a slim wisp of gun control sanity (see this account in Les Echos, Pourquoi Navajo Nation n’a pas pu racheter Remington).


According to the DealBook account:

The bid was rejected last week after Remington had delayed a formal reply for nearly two months, according to a memo from Christopher Wu, president of Teneo Restructuring, a banker for the Navajo Nation.

“The conversation was cordial,” he said of a call he received from Remington’s general counsel in reply to the bid. “He conveyed an official message from the board thanking us for our interest in pursuing a strategic transaction. He let us know that the company at this time is not prepared to engage with third parties and they required time after their reorganization to assess their business.”

When he asked about the delay, he wrote, he was told again that Remington was not prepared to engage with third parties. There was no mention that the bid price was too low.

What’s Next for Remington?

It’s not yet clear at this point what might be next for Remington– nor is the reason the Navajo Nation bid was rejected. In the absence of any further information, it remains to be seen whether any further transformative bid along the lines Sorkin suggested in May might succeed and transform Remington’s business model.

I’m not holding my breath….

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    1. PKMKII

      It’s still hellworld, but from a purely business perspective it is a more stable sales source. Gun sales are growing but the percentage of American households with guns is dwindling. Which means the industry is become more and more dependent on a sliver of consumers that’s getting tinier and tinier. That’s not a good long-term prospect, whereas government contracts are always going to be there.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Maybe the gun manufacturers could make their guns start to fall apart after a thousand rounds go through them. That way, people would have to buy replacement rifles. Better yet, bring in Silicon Valley. They could add software to rifles that could do all sorts of things such as GPS tracking, reporting on use but also the ability to make it stop working after so much use. There – problem solved.

  1. Jim Haygood

    For the Navajo nation to invest about 15 percent of its investment trust in a single company — particularly one emerging from bankruptcy — is quite risky. There are better ways to boost employment on the rez.

    It’s pretty head-spinning to tune in the big 100,000-watt Navajo radio station KYAT in Gallup, New Mexico, as they play a vast library of vintage country music (beating the crap out of IHeartRadio’s mind-numbing formulaic garbage), occasional Dine traditional music, and effortlessly code-switch between Dine and English in ads, where the text is in Dine (except for words such as “insurance”) but the phone numbers are read in English.

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      You don’t even want to get into how the Navajos count. There are a lot of different methods!

    2. 4corners

      That station is the best! Just the other day I was driving through the Dinetah to the stylings of Rodney Crowell’s “Shame on the Moon”. And listening to the community announcements in Dine was even better!

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Try KTNN or Never heard of KYAT.

        I will ask the boys to see if they can get either one in the ME hinterlands next week.


      2. 4corners

        Set and Setting, Lambert. If you can tune in on the ether, pull up an image of Shiprock or something.

    3. JBird

      It’s pretty head-spinning to tune in the big 100,000-watt Navajo radio station KYAT in Gallup, New Mexico, as they play a vast library of vintage country music (beating the crap out of IHeartRadio’s mind-numbing formulaic garbage

      Do they still pIay actual country and western anywhere? It is like trying to get some decent non formulaic classical or jazz stations. I have never been that big a fan of country, but I’m still missing Santa Clara County’s KFAT. That was a real country music station albeit with an…eclectic, even unique musical selection.

      1. KFritz

        If you’re in the South Bay, there’s KKUP, which DOES have a webcast that anyone can hear. They don’t have that much country, but it’s always int the same time slots. Sully Roddy, a KFAT stalwart, does occasional broadcasts. If you know how to use Audacity, it’s possible to record shows (but not with Ubuntu, unfortunately).

        Also, almost every song ever recorded can be heard @ YouTube–with the notable exceptions of many of the studio recordings of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.

        1. JBird

          Thanks, I will see if I can get KKUP although I can see I probably will be out of range much of the time while driving.

    4. ej

      And then some of the Navajo want to buy up a closing coal mine that’s on the rez. High buck jobs, they say. A lot of Natives work in the various mines in Farmington, NM, on the northeast side of the rez.
      What I’ve never been able to figure out is why not put some solar plants there. If there’s one thing you have it’s sun light, a minimum of 300 days a year.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Getting into “solar” is quite difficult in AZ unless you are affiliated with APS or SRP. By affiliated I mean you have the right lobbyist and “friend” on the AZ Corp Commission.

    5. DHG

      The Navajo Nation is about to lose most of its income when the NGS shuts down quite possibly next year, they need other businesses to provide income and they needed them yesterday.

    6. Skip Intro

      Perhaps the Navajo saw other benefits to having an independent arms supply capability right in their ghetto reservation.

  2. The Rev Kev

    My, isn’t that cute. The Board for Remington think that they are going to be allowed a choice as time goes by. Maybe they are hoping to hear back from those nice people at Smith & Wesson or Sturm, Ruger & Co. or maybe even the NRA will give them a hand. After all, and I quote-

    “In May 2013, the NRA inducted three Remington executives—CEO George Kollitides, Vice Chairman Wally McLallen, and President Scott Blackwell—into its Golden Ring of Freedom, reserved for those who’ve given the NRA at least $1 million.”

    Hey, the NRA guys owe them.

    1. ambrit

      I suspect that the Clinton Foundation is working up a bid for Remington. Mix Remington in with ‘Brown Shirt Staffing Solutions’ and name the result “#Resistance Remington.”

  3. PressGaneyMustDie

    This is a big garbage nothing-burger. Remington was picked clean by the Private Equity-financed Freedom Group. The quality of their product went in the toilet. Their R11 pistol was a disaster. Their 700 series rifles became jam-o-Magic’s. If the business plan of the Navajo nation is to restrict their market to law enforcement & military contracts, then their plan is financial suicide. Colt and Smith & Wesson both went down this rabbit hole of “we only sell to the gubmint” and both ended up insolvent. Firearms enthusiasts will embargo a manufacturer suspected of treason to the 2nd Amendment at the drop of a hat.

  4. 4corners

    Interesting story; thanks for posting. But I couldnt quite catch the editorial drift. Is it objectionable that this company is in play, just because it manufactures firearms? So what. It’s a storied brand and a lot of us enjoy their products. I grew up plinking thrift store chia pets with a Remington .22 at a Forest Service range, with my mom–a crack shot. And we are hardly prepper/NRA/don’t tread on me/ camo-wearing types.

    And what is objectionable about the Nation looking to acquire a concern that would boost employment? Especially if they can take advantage of a preferred vendor status for govt contracts? It’s not like they can start competing with Raytheon on missile systems. Other than Jim’s point about questionable investment strategy, what is the problem with that?

    Last, I don’t know many adults that look to David Hogg et al for policy advice. It’s hardly surprising that these protests haven’t moved the needle much on such a stubborn issue.

    Anyway… I’m all ears about direct arguments for gun control. I just couldn’t grasp the arguments in this case.

    1. JBird

      And what is objectionable about the Nation looking to acquire a concern that would boost employment?

      There is no direct reason really, but several in the American history, culture and politics.

      First, I think a subconscious influence is that it’s “those” people who are trying to buy the company as in non-white. Racism. Unconscious perhaps, but certainly there in all its ugliness.

      The only guns the Navajo Nation planned to sell to consumers were long guns like rifles and shotguns used by hunters.

      “Navajo is a community of veterans and people of the land,” the tribe’s lawyer, Drew Ryce, said in an email. “We are indifferent to the AR-15 and happy to leave that business behind.”

      Second, the Navajo Nation said that then planned on not sell “AR-15 style” weapons. Can we scream those scary, scary words gun control!!!! (Rolling my eyes here.) There’s a hole the size of the Earth to drive through . Just stop selling black colored rifles, change the rifle’s profile, including maybe the grip, and goodbye AR-15 style weapon especially as most rifles are now semi-automatic.

      The sick part is that long rifles and shotguns are usually more dangerous than an AR-15. The military version called the M-16 is a different perhaps, but that is effectively illegal to own.

      Screaming over the scary words “assault style weapon,” and “AR-15 style” does get the bases riled up, increases their purchases, and does jack about actual gun violence especially as almost none of the murders or suicide are done using them. Handguns do, and of course the despair, the poverty, are the reasons people kill themselves ( most deaths are suicides using handguns). But we would have to solve the increasing poverty, sickness, and corruption to fix those problems wouldn’t we?

      The tribe planned to use profits from those businesses to invest in research and development of advanced “smart guns” — those with fingerprint or other technology intended to prevent anyone but the gun’s owner from using the weapon.

      Third, they said they wanted to develop “smart” guns, which is controversial as some states, especially New Jersey, want to ban all non smart guns once any smart guns are on the market. Smart guns are suppose to prevent accidental, or non owner, shootings, but in order to work, it would have to work for decades, in all weather in wind, rain, snow, deserts, forest, anywhere, in any circumstances, flawlessly using electronics. Rather like your smart phone is supposed to. (Cue laughter)

      Even those gun owners who favor smart guns, and they do exist, are worried that they might have to get rid of all their old guns and use some wonky POS that might get the killed. (Hi wild animal, criminal, abusive spouse, crazy neighbor, please stop killing me until I fix my gun!) There might be some gun control advocates might not care too much about that.

      That creates a problem. Smart guns are a good idea, which requires a great amount of research and testing, but the push for them will almost certainly mean their use before they are ready, which will result in a near worthless dangerous product, because of politics, so the gun owners prevent research. Rinse and repeat.

      So a potentially very good thing is reduced to political talking points and dies. Much like most of America’s problems.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Do explain to me how a long rifle is more dangerous than an assault rifle. The damage the assault rifles do seems to me far worse.
        Again, I have probably handled more types of weapons than most people. Not bragging just explaining why I can’t stand the damn things.

        1. thegooddr.

          “Assault riffles” in military terms are select fire intermediate cartridge firing rifles. The industry standard for civilian semi auto only “assault rifles” is “modern sporting rifles”. As for why traditional rifles and shotguns are more deadly, they tend to shoot more powerful rounds. There’s a sizable group in the Army who have been trying to get rid of the M-16 and the 5.56x45mm cartridge for decades because of it’s decreased stopping power compared to .308 or 30-06.

          Even taking the whole caliber debate out of the question, all rifles and shotguns (everything from grandpapy’s .22LR squirrel gun to the baby killer 3000 AR-15) are responsible for less deaths than knives and blunt objects in the US each year. Handguns are the predominant tool of murderers in the US. The only reason the gun control lobby even focuses on black rifles is because in the 60’s and 70’s when they were trying to ban handguns they couldn’t get enough support. The idea became go after the scary stuff first, then gradually go for handguns.

        2. skycruiser

          Many long rifles have more stopping power than the AR-15, a ʻmodernʻ sporting rifle useful for varmints, rabbits, etc. Some states have outlawed the weapon for deer hunting as itʻs inadequate for a humane kill.

          Not liking the gun is a personal opinion. I do – also a personal opinion. But, Iʻm not a large male – the limited recoil and low muzzle rise are important to me. Still, if I need to stop an intruder Iʻll go for my 20 gauge.

  5. ambrit

    I doubt if many people in America have had to bag a bunny for the pot. I have. A decent .22 and a headlight are vewwy useful in ‘hard times.’ Any stockman will tell you. A decent varmint rifle is part of the tool kit.
    I make a distinction in my head between “Working Guns” and “Dangerous Toys.” I have, during my lifetime, fallen prey to the ‘glamour’ of both types. Now I’m older and hopefully a little bit wiser.

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      Dangerous toys, yes. I shot a poor little bunny with my own .22 when I was a child, because it was “part of the culture” I lived in. My father would give some weird gun to my mother along with some piece of jewelry at Christmas.
      Nothing weird happening here…

      1. ambrit

        I shot bunnies when I was out of work and food was running low. We ate them. When you have to participate in the actual caring for and ‘harvesting’ of animals for food, your internal relationship with nature takes a decidedly more pragmatic, yet, if you are at all sensitive, spiritual turn. I can understand the so called ‘primitive’ custom of thanking the spirit of the animal for its’ sacrifice so that we can eat. One day, we’ll be feeding nature ourselves.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          That is different. I have no issue with needing and securing food. But we were just out shooting things. It is a really clear memory I have and I don’t feel good about it.

          1. ambrit

            I understand. I have a similar memory.
            This phenomenon displays the ability to reflect on ones’ own actions and how those actions ‘fit in’ with the rest of the world. I consider it part of being human. The people who can kill things and not reflect upon the experience are the ones who worry me.

        2. skycruiser

          My favorite Disney character, above all others is “Thumper”. And Iʻve owned pet rabbits. Yet, somehow they never come to mind when Iʻm dining on hasenpfeffer. I also like cows but that doesnʻt stop me from enjoying a marvelous steak. I tend the soil and eat from my garden as well. And I do thank the Lord for His bounty.

  6. JBird

    I have, during my lifetime, fallen prey to the ‘glamour’ of both types. Now I’m older and hopefully a little bit wiser.

    The mind f@@@@@@ ability of advertising to slime its way into your head to buy the latest sexiest, coolest, crap is strong. Don’t feel bad.

    1. JBird

      Too many Americans don’t want to handle the truth about Native Americans’ near genocide especially about the Trail of Tears. the Long Walk, the fairly successful, albeit still incomplete, genocide of the California Indians during and immediately after the Gold Rush, or that the United States has broken every treaty it signed with the American Indians. Hey we’re just the good guys! America can’t be responsible for all that!

      When one adds slavery the only reason not to despair is that there was always an extensive, often organized American resistance to both slavery and the treatment of the natives, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Not nearly enough, but enough to have some pride. Our history is some God awful bloody jagged tangoing of avarice, murder, and hatred with dreams, idealism, hope, and defiance.

      1. blennylips

        Our God awful history continues. Letter to the Ely Times last month:

        The Federal Government is in the process of killing 5 million acres of Pinion/Juniper forests in the Western US. (For comparison, the vast expanse of the new Basin and Range National Monument is only 700 thousand acres.) I can’t even imagine how many pine nuts 5 million acres is. And I don’t anticipate good hunting either. It appears our sacred sustainable food sources are being privatized. For Native Americans, this is the final blow in the destruction of our culture. This is way bigger than any local rancher. The West is being treated like a third world nation. And your taxes are paying for this – while those giant corporations who will profit from our loss of forest just got a big tax cut. If you don’t see the unsustainable thinking of pure greed and exploitation here, you need to go take a look. It’s hideous.

        My parental units ripened in Blanding Utah. Family legend has it that grandad participated in the last “shooting” skirmish with the Navajos.

  7. jackiebass

    Why do they have a 70% unemployment rate? They should use some of their investment trust to better educate and train their people. That wold be the best investment they could make.

    1. ambrit

      We can view the experience of the American Indians as the extreme version of the Neo-liberal experience. Where I sit, the visible functional unemployment rate seems to be up around a quarter of the population.

    2. Eclair

      The Dineh (and the Lakota and the Ponca and the …. just about every Indigenous nation) have a 70% ‘unemployment’ rate because white european settlers took away their means of employment. That is, settlers drove the Indigenous peoples off the land that they used for growing crops, hunting and fishing, producing their clothing and shelters, massacred all they could then herded the remaining pitiful bands onto lands (‘reservations’) that the settlers deemed sub-standard (until they discovered gold or silver or uranium or oil on those lands).

      The Dineh, and their Relatives, never had an ‘unemployment’ problem until the first white settlers and colonists appeared on the continent. We colonists have been telling the ‘Natives’ for years, that, like rape victims, they should just ‘relax and enjoy’ it. Get some ‘education’ then get a job in a factory or call center and become a wage slave. Join the rest of us and work your butts off for minimum wage.

  8. earthling1

    The Native American nations first mistake was failing to control invasive species (smallpox).
    Their second was failure to control rampant immigration.

    1. JBird

      Nobody controlled smallpox.

      Endured, yes. Managed maybe. Using variolation, an earlier kind of smallpox vaccine that often gave lucky you a very weaken case of real smallpox although there was only a death rate of ~1% from taking the vaccine, instead of the normal 30% plus, from getting the full thing, or if you worked with cattle you could catch cowpox. Cowpox is related but benign and gave immunity.

      Most people did not like the idea of taking a vaccine that had as high as 2% chance of killing you. So they often did not, even though most got the disease eventually, once enough of the now immune survivors from the last time died off and were replaced by the unimmune new generation.

      In the 19th century tens of millions of Europeans died from it. Many, many more got scarring and, or blindness. It was only when they develop a vaccine that was basically safe and could be used by doctors in Nowheresville during an outbreak that it got eliminated.

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