Fear & Loading: Changes at the Newsstand

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posted on April 29, 2016
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Harris Publications produced enthusiast magazines for nearly 40 years, but today it closes its doors, effectively shuttering Combat Handguns, Pocket Pistols, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement and other gun titles that were newsstand regulars for years. It’s a loss for firearm enthusiasts for a number of reasons.

Folio magazine reported the development yesterday, citing an alleged internal memo that the growth of digital media’s popularity led to the demise. The company produces a long list of other titles, directed at a variety of sports and hobbies. As of yet, there’s no closure verification on its website, though.

The move should be of concern, even if you weren’t a reader. Owner Stanley Harris, or at the least his distribution manager, was shear genius at placing those periodicals on newsstands, seemingly everywhere and in some places where saying the word “gun” at the checkout resulted in a SWAT Team response. The vacuum they leave could reduce the number of new enthusiasts recruited.

Competition is fierce for readers and advertisers in the magazine industry, but firearms reporters, writers, editors and photographers are a tight-knit group. To say there are friends at the publications would be an understatement, and many of them are either shopping their expertise and services around this morning, dreading the unemployment line, or both. The news affects many families with young children.

Things change, unfortunately, at an ever-increasing pace, but I can’t help but think back to the wisdom the founder/owner of Cashbox in Tucson, Ariz.—Nimer Ganem, who’d assembled the kind of staff that made it the friendliest, most knowledgeable gun store in all of Arizona nearly 20 years ago. A large, competing gun retailer had just closed down in town and he immediately expressed concern about the staff and families. When I pressed him about the possibility of new customers frequenting his business, which was a landmark for shooters in the area since 1957, he explained that wasn’t even on his mind, because with today’s political attacks on firearms and gun rights, “There’s safety in numbers.”

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