Larry Keane was kind enough to respond to my request for comment by sending me this NSSF statement.
Recently, there have been calls by consumers urging members of the firearms industry as a means of protesting recently enacted gun control measures like New York’s SAFE Act to stop selling their products to law enforcement agencies in those states. Some have even suggested that NSSF should bring attention to this protest movement. Individual companies are free to independently decide which customers and markets they wish to serve. However, agreeing with others to boycott certain customers or markets raises very serious legal questions concerning antitrust laws and may be illegal. Due to these antitrust concerns, NSSF is unable to promote this protest. We are also concerned that members of law enforcement are not made less safe due to the ill-advised decisions of antigun politicians. We encourage all hunters, target shooters, and firearms owners to become involved in the democratic process, advocate for repeal of these anti-gun measures and vote for candidates who respect the Second Amendment.
My comment is that I don’t believe that there is a case to be made that this is an anti-trust violation.
I am NOT a lawyer, so don’t rely on me for legal advice. If you do, the judge will laugh at you.
Anti-Trust laws were written to protect the consumer from companies limiting their choices. The “consumer” is not generally defined as “the government.” The consumer is defined as “you and me.” US Anti-Trust law does make it clear that if two companies that should compete with each other for market share made an agreement to split territories, that would be illegal. But it would be a strange legal case for the State of New York to claim that refusing to sell guns to their agents constitutes “splitting territories.” It would be completely outrageous for New York to claim that refusing to break the NY SAFE Act by selling illegal guns to the police (no police loophole in that law, remember?) is some sort of crime.
It would also be some sort of crime to refuse to sell guns to a protected class of citizen. If, for instance, companies agreed to cease all firearm sales to African-Americans, that would be illegal, as well as quite a scandal. But anyone who advances the court case that government employees are a protected class of citizen needs to be kicked somewhere very sensitive.
All that being said, I understand how many companies don’t need the aggravation of dealing with politically motivated lawyers hassling them over bogus claims. And anyone who believes that our government lawyers wouldn’t file BS suits just to punish their political enemies is a fool.