At just the right time, Sturm, Ruger & Co. is again stepping forward in a big way, pledging to donate $2 to the NRA for each new Ruger firearm sold between the 2015 and 2016 NRA Annual Meetings, with the goal of giving a total of $4 million. Ruger’s donation will benefit the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) during the critical 2016 election cycle.
“We’re bringing back the One Million Gun Challenge with a twist,” said Ruger CEO Mike Fifer. “Our goal is to sell 2 million firearms between the 2015 and 2016 NRA Annual Meetings. With that, we pledge to donate not one, but two dollars to the NRA for every new firearm sold during that time. We accomplished our goals to support the NRA in 2012, and with the help of our loyal customers, we believe we can do it again.”
In an interview with NRA Publications' Editorial Director John Zent, Fifer outlined Ruger’s plans to meet its lofty goal and expressed determination to provide leadership during what could be a pivotal point in American history.
Zent: How did the Million Gun Challenge originate? Fifer: At the 2011 NRA Annual Meetings, I heard Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox talk about the upcoming challenges for the 2012 presidential cycle. I thought, we need to help. A big, round number popped into mind … a million bucks! I wondered, how can I get away with that? I was trying to think of something everyone would buy into, and I remembered that Bill Ruger always had a goal to make a million guns a year and he never quite achieved it. He got over 900,000 once but never made a million. So I set that as a big, hard-to-reach goal, and decided to donate a buck a gun. That way we would have an excuse, if successful, to give the NRA-ILA $1 million for the upcoming political challenge. It turned out to be so successful that half way through the period we raised the goal to 1.2 million guns, and in the end, we sold a total of 1,273,000.
Zent: At what point then did you decide there would be a Two Million Gun Challenge?
Fifer: Fast-forward four years and we have another big political fight on our hands to preserve our rights. I heard Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox again at the 2015 Annual Meetings talking about the success they had in influencing the 2014 elections with a budget of about $35 million. Someone in the audience asked: What’s your budget for 2016? Wayne and Chris said, well, if we can do it we would like to spend $50 million in the election cycle. I immediately thought, Ruger can make a big difference here. We can contribute a big chunk of money … but how? We’ve already done the Million Gun Challenge—what’s next? Let’s do 2 million guns and two bucks a gun, that’s $4 million, and then maybe our distributors will jump in so maybe we can contribute $5 million. Just Ruger alone could account for 10 percent of NRA’s needs for the upcoming fight. That’s our goal. And already our largest distributor, Davidson’s, has volunteered to contribute an additional dollar for every gun they sell.
Zent: Two million guns sounds like a formidable goal. Are you confident about reaching it?
Fifer: A number of folks have asked me, 'Mike, are you confident Ruger can meet the 2 Million Gun Challenge?' I think back four years when I wasn’t quite so confident, but knew if we asked our customers to step up and asked our employees to put in the extra time and effort, we had a chance. We really surpassed that goal. That’s the way I feel about this one too. Two million guns may seem out of reach, but we have a lot of exciting new products, 31 new products introduced since the original Million Gun Challenge, including the SR-762, the new AR-556, the Ruger American Rimfire Rifle and the 10/22 Takedown—now that’s a fun gun. All that will get our customers energized for the best possible cause—protecting the Second Amendment. I know Ruger employees will step up, so I think we have a good chance.
Zent: What results do you hope to see from this cooperative effort between Ruger and National Rifle Association?
Fifer: The most important outcome isn’t whether we sell the 2 million guns or whether our donation is $3.5 million, $4 million or $5 million, but that working together with NRA, we are able to achieve victory in the 2016 elections, that we end up with a president and Congress that support and respect our rights regarding firearms, that aren’t constantly attacking us or trying to undermine us like we’ve had for the last eight years. Ultimately, that’s what we want to achieve.
For more on Ruger’s “Two Million Gun Challenge” and to track its progress, visit ruger.com/2million.
The majority of the NRA’s funding comes from millions of small donors who are committed to the preservation of Second Amendment rights. Less than 5 percent of the organization’s revenue comes from the firearm industry.