During the War of 1812, the British captured the city of Washington, setting fire to the capitol building and the White House. In the blaze of cannon fire, Francis Scott Key,a lawyer living in Georgetown could still see an American flag waving over Fort McHenry. When the bombing suddenly stopped during the night he had no way of knowing if the flag was still there or if the American stroghold had fallen to the British. But at dawn the American flag became visible, still intact over the fort.
A placque hanging over Elizabeth Saunders' desk
Chief Executive Officer
The Danbury Mint
August 7, 2001
To Whom It May Concern:
I have recently been in negotiations with your company regarding a potential new product, and I thought it might be of interest to you to know how your organization operates and how they allow political opinion to rule over business sense.
By way of introduction, I am the President and CEO of American Derringer Corporation, located in Waco, Texas. I have run this company since the death of my husband Robert, the founder of American Derringer. As should be obvious from the name, we manufacture Derringer style firearms. In fact we have several patents on our designs, which have become the industry standard for this style firearm. We are also very proud of what we do here at ADC, and are not shy about saying so, either.
My initial involvement with the company was to pose for some photos for an advertising campaign to introduce the "Lady Derringer" model. Robert thought it would capture industry attention and help to open a new market for the product. Was he ever right. Almost immediately after the first ad ran, I became known as Lady Derringer and began attending trade shows and became more involved in the company. Over the course of time, Lady Derringer became somewhat of a buzzword among firearms enthusiasts, and part of the company's identity. That remains as true today as it did when we first launched the ad campaign.
Over the years, my company has produced many collectible items revolving around the Lady Derringer character including jewelry, perfumes, playing cards and walking sticks. All of these have been very popular and sold well. I had long wanted to do a doll of some type depicting the original Lady Derringer pose from the first ad.
Being a long time collector of Betty Boop memorabilia, I had made many purchases from the Danbury Mint and was happy with all of them. It seemed that Danbury would be the right place to produce this collectible doll.
With that in mind, I contacted the Danbury Mint to see if there would be the possibility of a Lady Derringer doll. Initially, your staff expressed interest in this project. We had a number of what I thought were productive business discussions and seemed to be reaching a point of agreement. Unfortunately, politics then jumped into the picture and all of our business decisions were ignored.
The first sign that a problem was coming was when I was told that Danbury does not place firearms on their dolls. As much as I did not want to change to original look of Lady Derringer, I could see the marketing issue in these politically correct times. And, while I objected, I was willing to talk about it. However, that possibility never came to fruition because the very next thing I heard was that the Danbury Mint would not undertake the project because even the name was a gun, and there were just to be no guns.
Not only was that abrupt, rude and closed-minded, but it was disingenuous as well. We had been talking about Lady Derringer all along. It was not a surprise or a sudden change. I made that clear in the very first conversation. To suddenly reject the project because of the name, when the real reason is political and has more to do with my company and my industry than it does with the market viability of a product is just plain wrong.
And this is where things remain today. I have a serious disagreement with your company over the way they treated me and their unprofessional application of political opinion to a business matter. I understand that guns are an emotional political issue in America today, and I also know that there are those who do not like firearms, as its their right. However, there are literally tens of millions of Americans that do like firearms and the piece of our American Heritage that they represent.
And make no mistake, firearms are an integral and important part of our history. It was with firearms brought in against England's strict no-firearms for colonists policies that we were able to wage and ultimately win the War for Independence. It was a firearm that accompanied the explorers who opened up the western reaches of this great nation. It was with firearms that we were able to stop the mindless genocide machine during World War II. And keep in mind that the very first edict issued by the Nazis to any newly conquered country was for all citizens to turn in their firearms. Without American made guns, the Nazis would still be in control of Europe.
The founders of this nation felt so strongly about the right to have a firearm they put it into the Bill of Rights along with the freedoms of speech, assembly and religion. A majority of Americans still hold this view as do I. That is why I found it so astounding that a company like Danbury Mint, which has made a great deal of profit from selling memorabilia that depicts our history would disregard this element to satisfy personal political opinion.
It should be fairly obvious that I am a passionate supporter of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms and believe firmly that firearms are part of our national heritage, history and culture. What your staff did and the manner in which I was treated from that point on is not only inexcusable, but also unacceptable to me as an American and as a customer.
It is certainly within your rights to choose what you produce and sell. It is equally within my rights to make sure that I never purchase another item from you again and that I tell as many people as I can about your company's political business practices. I will make no recommendation to anyone as to what they should do, but I truly feel that it is a story worth telling and one that speaks volumes about the state of our nation today.
I am truly sorry that is has come to this, but by punishing me for my belief in our Constitution, your people have assaulted the right of every American to keep and bear arms, and have offended them by denigrating their choice to have a firearm. It is just plain bad business and bad politics and disrespectful of your customers' personal beliefs.
I hope to hear from a senior executive at the Danbury Mint who can explain this anti-American policy to me, or possibly even reverse that policy. Until then, I will have to find my Betty Boop memorabilia elsewhere and seek a more reasonable, fair-minded company that wants my business and respects my rights and beliefs.