PAINTING the nation's arms neon

Are brightly colored firearms putting officers in danger?

     Most of us can be fairly certain that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City doesn't know us from Adam. We could bet our bottom dollar that the politically unaffiliated, 6-year Big Apple mayor has never even heard our names before, and prior to June 2006, if Steve Lauer were a betting man; he'd have done the same.

     However, in an elaborately put together press junket in NYC, thousands of miles from Lauer at his business in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Bloomberg not only called him out by name, but also insulted his business, telling the crowd of news reporters and politicians he believes there to be malice behind the firearm finishing market, which includes the innovative product Lauer makes, DuraCoat. Further, Bloomberg predicted tragedy would result if firearms were not prohibited in certain bright colors.

     In essence, Bloomberg's position on the fluorescent guns was two-pronged: He alleged that by design, brightly colored firearms appeal to children because they resemble toys; and in addition, they are detrimental to law enforcement officers, who may hesitate to react when faced with a citizen holding one of the candy-colored guns.

     In what some industry officials called a grandstand, Bloomberg presented two brightly colored guns — one yellow and one red— and asked attendees to identify the firearm from the toy. Using language such as "sick" and "twisted" to describe the business men and women who sell finishing kits in bright colors, Bloomberg asserted that in the pursuit to "make a buck," businesses that sell such kits are endangering children and law enforcement officers in one swoop.

     Industry officials readily dismiss Bloomberg's accusations, citing ostentatious political agendas as the underlying motivation for the metropolitan mayor's stance on determining which colors are weapon-appropriate.


     In response to Bloomberg's allegations, Lauer says that his widely popular finishing product DuraCoat is the antithesis of an unsafe good. Lauer argues that DuraCoat is meant to protect firearms, ensuring their upkeep and guarding against corrosion that could affect a gun's safe function, just as gun oils and other protectants do.

     DuraCoat sets itself apart from other finishing products with its durability and versatility. And most importantly, DuraCoat provides those characteristics without complicating the application process, even for untrained users. Lauer counters Bloomberg's allegation that a DuraCoat finish creates a firearms safety issue.

     "Mayor Bloomberg thinks that we have an unsafe product," Lauer says. "And I'll tell you that what we have is a safety product. DuraCoat is about safety; and that simply means that your gun will always work."

     DuraCoat is meant to provide a corrosion-resistant surface, and the aesthetic value that colors add to the process is an added bonus, but not the driving factor.

     Lauer also explains that many of the 115 DuraCoat colors available were requested by customers (aside from the Bloomberg Collection colors — named for the New York City's boroughs, like Manhattan Red — which Lauer says were inspired by the Big Apple mayor). One color that has received a great deal of attention and concern is Barney Purple, which was requested by a customer who wanted to color a rifle after his daughter's favorite dinosaur character in order to generate interest on her part in shooting sports.

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