Report: City of Toledo's attempts to punish local dealers who sell modern sporting rifles didn't work

Two years ago, in the wake of a mass public shooting in Pittsburgh, Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz decided he wanted to "hold gun dealers accountable." As such, the City of Toledo announced a new policy which said it would only purchase firearms from "responsible" gun companies. In order to determine which companies are "responsible," city officials said they would ask six questions of manufacturers, and hoped other cities would do the same.

Those questions are:

  • Do you manufacture assault weapons for civilian use?
  • Do you sell assault weapons for civilian use?
  • Which firearms does your company agree to not sell to civilians?
  • Do you require your dealers to conduct background checks?
  • Does your company have a plan in place to invest in gun and ammunition-tracing technologies?
  • Do you use, at a minimum, industry best practices for inventory control and transactions?

After two years, WTOL (CBS Toledo) is reporting that no company has met the city's standards, and even Mayor Kapszukiewicz is admitting his plan didn't work.

From the article:

At a press conference on Oct. 30, 2018, Kapszukiewicz said, "I am to the point where I am done. I'm done with the thoughts and prayers, tweets and the vacuous bromides coming from politicians, and the endless cycle of memorials and vigils."

In an interview with 11 Investigates on Oct. 27, 2020 - nearly two years later - Kapszukiewicz recalled his emotions on the day of the shooting as "anger, outrage, and more than anything else, just a feeling of disappointment that we can't solve this problem."

So with the limited mayoral power he has, Kapszukiewicz promised to take action. He devised a list of six questions that would be sent to each weapons and ammunition dealer with whom Toledo's police department did business.

The goal was to weed out bad suppliers and make sure Toledo was only purchasing from responsible companies.

It was obvious at the time the mayor was making policy decisions based on emotion, and it is interesting to see him finally admit it.

One is left to wonder why the city didn't take the same action against the manufacturer of the car the killer was driving. Would he, for example, have taken such actions against Jeep, which is manufactured right there in Toledo?

Again, from the article:

Doug Vance is the vice president of Vance Outdoors, the city of Toledo's primary weapons supplier.

...

From 2018 to 2020, records obtained by 11 Investigates revealed Toledo dished out nearly $150,000 in taxpayer dollars to Vance Outdoors, despite a peculiar answer to one of the mayor's new questions.

The question reads, "Do you sell assault weapons for civilian use?" 

Vance's answer: "Assault weapon" is not a specific term, but yes, the company sells to civilians.

This is no surprise. As I wrote in 2018, "thanks to the poor wording of their questions, it is likely most manufacturers can tell them exactly what they want to hear, even if they sell the wildly-popular modern sporting rifles."

The article continues:

It turns out Vance had nothing to worry about with Toledo. The city spent thousands of dollars with his company after receiving the answers, begging the question: Is there any disqualifying response?

"I think there is a correct answer and we are trying to create a world where more companies give that answer," Kapszukiewicz said. "I guess that would be my counter."

"But Vance says that they do sell to civilians," 11 Investigates replied.

"Well, then we should not want to give our business to them," Kapszukiewicz said. "And you are going to say, 'But we do.' And I'm going to say, 'Yes, but we have to because there are no companies that meet our standard.'"

...

"We do have to purchase the weapons for our police department from companies that we don't believe are responsible," Kapszukiewicz said. "We have to do it. We have no other choice. We're certainly not going to allow our police officers to go out there without the tools they need to succeed. We know we don't have any alternatives right now. What we're trying to do is create alternatives."

The fact is, the mayor's comments prove one very important thing: the city needs the dealers and manufacturers more than the dealers and manufacturers need the city. And that is why, in 2018, I suggested that dealers and manufacturers should refuse to sell firearms to the City of Toledo, or any other city that imposes these rules.

In 2013, in response to various and increasingly oppressive (and sometimes impossible to comply with) anti-Second Amendment state laws, more than forty firearms manufacturers announced that they would no longer do business with law enforcement agencies in these states. Likewise, many companies announced they would no longer do business with Dick's Sporting Goods after that company's efforts at gun control virtue signaling.

I'll say it again: Gun manufacturers should unite and do the same to the City of Toledo, and any other city that attempts to copy this effort. Don't sell them guns. Don't sell them ammo. Don't sell them parts. Let's see who needs who more.

If you wish to contact the Mayor and City Council members to express your displeasure.

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz - [email protected] - 419-245-1001

City Council - If you live in Toledo, click here to look up your council member by district.

Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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