How Gun Manufacturers Joined the Coronavirus Fight

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posted on May 13, 2020
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Photo courtesy of Remington

The deadly spread of the coronavirus might be a war without weapons, but that has not stopped leading gun manufacturers across the country from aiding those on the firing line. 

As the pandemic, officially referred to as COVID-19, loomed in March and fears escalated over a drastic national shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) U.S. weapons plants quickly shifted their production plants to assist in filling the void and potentially saving thousands of vulnerable lives. 

The likes of SIG Sauer, for one, have donated nearly 15,000 KN95 masks to over 80 different local law enforcement, EMS, fire departments and medical facilities in New Hampshire, Oregon and Arkansas.

“As the events surrounding COVID-19 began to progress, it was clear to us very early on, that we were going to need to procure a significant amount of PPE to ensure the health and safety of our employees,” said Tom Taylor, chief marketing officer and executive vice president at SIG Sauer. “In the process of preparing our workforce, we were also able to secure enough masks so that we could contribute PPE within the communities where our facilities operate and our employees live, which allowed us to have the greatest possible impact.”

This was a dramatic shift for the company, given that the protective equipment they generally used was for hearing and eye protection for product test-firing in their factories.

Furthermore, SIG Sauer’s Oregon-based Electro-Optics division began 3D printing plastic face shields to donate to Medical Teams International, a non-governmental organization that outfits medical professionals operating in mobile coronavirus testing vans in the greater metro area of Portland. SIG also underscored that they would be giving away these face shields to local healthcare workers across Oregon, Arkansas and New Hampshire. 

And in early April, KelTec began 3D-printing N99 capable masks to supply local hospitals. Leading  engineer, Toby Obermeit, worked with the Medical University of South Carolina to make improvements to their S.A.F.E. Mask design. The original design required cutting and gluing a HEPA filter; however, the new designs utilize various Roomba Filters, making them much easier to assemble, according to marketing materials. 

Moreover, Smith & Wesson has done its part by donating more than 5,000 face shields and 12,000 pairs of eye protection to frontline works across America. As the outbreak swept across the U.S. in March, it took the engineering team at the company just a few days to design a face shield utilizing 3D printers and readily available materials.

“Ordinarily, our PPE is primarily focused on hearing and eye protection for use in our manufacturing facilities. Because we have an inventory of eye protection—safety glasses—we were able to send 12,000 pairs to front line professionals across the nation,” said Elizabeth Sharp, VP of investor relations at American Outdoor Brands Corporation, the parent company for Smith & Wesson. “In addition, our unique manufacturing capability and expertise in the form of innovative engineers, 3D printers and special materials, provided us the opportunity to re-purpose a portion of those resources to design and build face shields.”

In addition, Smith & Wesson is pumping out at least 1,000 of these shields on a daily basis for the medical community across several states. 

In its quest to assist communities beleaguered with the novel contagion, Ruger donated 6,500 surgical masks, 700 Tyvek suits, over 200 N95 masks, almost 5,000 safety glasses and 200 shoe coverings to hospitals, nursing homes, police, fire and other first responder departments.  

“Additionally, Ruger has redeployed some of its manufacturing resources and pivoted production to assist with the shortage of certain medical supplies,” said Vice President of Marketing, Rob Werkmeister. “Specifically, Ruger has built and delivered over 3,000 face shields to over 60 local hospitals and first responders in five states,"

Furthermore, as the infection rate soared in the country’s hardest-hit state of New York in early April, and as state leaders were desperately requesting medical supplies and resources, Remington Arms offered almost one million square feet of vacant space in its upstate plant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

“The Remington plant in Ilion now has approximately one million square feet of unused and available manufacturing space,” CEO Ken D'Arcy wrote in a March 23 letter to Cuomo and President Donald Trump. “We would be honored to donate our facility to the production of ventilators, surgical masks, hospital beds or any other products mission-critical to the war on coronavirus.”

With the war still waging, but restricting across some states easing, American arms leaders are still very much readying for combatting this virus.

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