PAINTING the nation's arms neon

Are brightly colored firearms putting officers in danger?

     The DuraCoat System, on the market since 2001, is shaking up the finishing industry. The finish can be applied by any level of firearm finishers, Lauer stresses, and its applications are seemingly endless. DuraCoat can be applied to ferrous metals, alloys, stainless steel, synthetics, wood — and the list continues. To cure the finish, no preheating or baking is required, and in addition to the ever-expanding choice of colors, DuraCoat is available in a clear finish, which Lauer says is utilized by other industries such as plumbers to cover brass fixtures. Lauer claims that his finish is unmatched in its versatility, durability, and user-friendly characteristics as a commercially manufactured firearm finish system. DuraCoat is available in a line of CamoPaks, EZ CAMO kits — which are prepackaged, containing all necessary supplies to finish one or two firearms — and a variety of Peel 'N Spray Camo Templates, which are pre-cut for do-it-yourself use to create patterns such as the Bengal, Diamond Plate and Lady AmStripe, a pink and black tiger-print design, for example.

     Guns are coordinated to owner tastes and competitor's brands, just like Nascar racing cars or football teams' trademark colors, like the green and gold of the Packers.

     Siegler says there's nothing wrong with customizing firearms with special colors, patterns or other accessories, and it's not unusual for sport shooters to customize their weapons to personal tastes, and for hunting, camouflage finishes serve both aesthetic and practical purposes.

     Further, Siegler says that there isn't an issue with illegal guns in the United States, but what deserves higher billing is the illegal possession of guns. When it comes to law abiding citizens, the right to bear arms is written in our nation's rule book, and grandstanding anti-gun politics, like those he argues are underlying in Bloomberg's color control campaign, have long been the bane of the government.

Adding insult

     In addition to refuting the claims that guns with bright colors and designs appeal to kids, industry experts find the second claim by Bloomberg fallacious.

     Adding to his original argument from 2006, Bloomberg told the New York Daily News in a March 21 story that, "by coloring these guns, a real one looks like a toy, and a police officer won't be able to tell the difference. Imagine an officer who comes upon a teenager pointing a pink gun into a crowd. If the gun is a toy, an innocent teenager may be killed — and others, too. Our police officers have a hard enough job as it is, and that's why we passed a law to prevent these deadly tragedies from occurring."

     John Siegler, NRA president and attorney in Maryland, finds Bloomberg's claims untrue and offensive to the men in blue. He says it is a slight on police officers' knowledge, training and experience to say an officer wouldn't know the difference between a firearm and a toy. Siegler says this claim dishonors police men and women and discredits Bloomberg's veracity.

     "Quite frankly, I am somewhat appalled that [Bloomberg] would think so little of his police officers as to believe that law enforcement officers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a real firearm and a toy," says the 20-year Maryland police veteran. "I think that that's a slap at all of the trained law enforcement officers across the country and it's unfortunate that he has chosen to do this to otherwise expand his personal attack on the private possession and use of firearms by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes."

     Both Siegler and Lauer feel that the law enforcement scenarios that Bloomberg gives are created by his imagination, and are no more legitimate arguments than those in science fiction movies.

     "This is part of a much, much bigger campaign; Mr. Lauer just seems to be caught in the crossfire, so to speak."

The city — and agenda — that never sleeps

     To enter the showroom at Lauer Custom Weaponry in Northern Wisconsin, one must pass under an awning which reads, "NRA Members Only," and Lauer means it.

     The right to bear arms is a constantly controversial issue in the United States. On one end of the spectrum sits the NRA, and on the other is the famously anti-gun Bloomberg, so it's no surprise these two entities are positioned polarly on the color issue.

     The issue, according to some officials, isn't the color of the gun, but the gun itself, and attempts at controlling arms. Pro-gun advocates say that it isn't children and law enforcement that are at risk in the case of brightly colored firearms, but it's the security of the Second Amendment that's in jeopardy when politicians like Bloomberg take up causes such as gun color control: where the word "color" may as well be invisible.

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