Rifle maker bounces boss who supports Obama
WASHINGTON -- Montana gunsmith Dan Cooper has been ousted as chief executive of the rifle company that bears his name after pressure from gun owners who are angry that he is supporting Democrat Barack Obama.
Cooper, founder and part owner of Cooper Firearms, told USA TODAY in a story published Tuesday that he has voted for Republicans for most of his life, but he is backing Obama "probably because of the war. And also because the Republican Party has moved so far right in recent years." Cooper said he was attracted to the Democrat's message about "the retooling of America, which involves the building of middle-class jobs and helping American small business be competitive with those overseas."
Cooper contributed $3,300 to Obama's presidential campaign, according to election records complied by the non-partisan CQ MoneyLine.
The USA TODAY article sparked outrage from some gun owners and bloggers, including an open letter on a blog called Firearms and Freedom, urging people to boycott the company's products. Many gun enthusiasts believe Obama will try to restrict their right to bear arms, although he has said he respects the Second Amendment.
In a portion of the interview that was not included in Tuesday's story, Cooper said, "I don't believe that what's being said about Obama and his policies about guns are accurate. I have had a conversation with the senator … he is a stanch supporter of the right to hunt and the right to bear arms."
The company posted a statement Wednesday night on its website that said:
"The employees, shareholders and board of directors of Cooper Firearms of Montana do not share the personal political views of Dan Cooper. Although we all believe everyone has a right to vote and donate as they see fit, it has become apparent that the fallout may affect more than just Mr. Cooper. It may also affect the employees and the shareholders of Cooper Firearms. The board of directors has asked Mr. Cooper to resign as President."
Cooper Firearms employs 38 people, Cooper said Monday. Cooper started the company with two partners in 1990. It manufactures wood-stock bolt-action hunting rifles that start at around $1,600. In October 1992, Cooper presented a rifle to then-President George H.W. Bush at a Montana campaign event.
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