Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UPDATED 08/28/14: O.F. Mossberg moves to distance itself from Red Jacket Firearms

For the second time in less than 10 months the family owned firearms titan O.F. Mossberg and Sons of North Haven, Conn. found itself in league with a controversial figure.

The latest controversy impacting Mossberg is a now-severed link with Will Hayden, the founder of Red Jacket Firearms of East Baton Rouge, LA.

Hayden was arrested for allegedly repeatedly raping a female minor for more than one year, the victim said by the official complaint as young as 11 years old when the alleged incidents began in March, 2013.

Many people may know Will Hayden as the crusty patriarch of the alternative network Discovery Channel’s “Sons of Guns” reality television show.

As a result of the subsequent allegation and arrest, the Discovery Channel has ceased producing the popular “Sons of Guns” series. It had aired on the Discovery Channel for five years.

Similarly O.F. Mosberg and Sons wasted little time distancing itself from Red Jacket Firearms as well.

Mossberg spokeswoman Linda B. Powell said the firearms maker "... has terminated its agreement with Red Jacket Firearms, effective immediately."

"This statement was posted on our Facebook page this morning (August 28) as well as removing any references from our website," Powell said.
Just as Red Jacket Firearms had moved quickly and far from its association with Hayden. The firm’s web site home page has posted a disclaimer that notes Hayden is no longer associated with Red Jacket Firearms.

“Red Jacket Firearms LLC has initiated and received full legal separation as an entity, from William M. Hayden.

“It is with heavy hearts, we will be continuing to operate and ensure the fulfillment of new customer orders, back orders and to provide support to those affected by these new developments. WE are the Heart and Soul of Red Jacket and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to quality and our customers, for years to come.”

 Yet a red flag involving Hayden may have been raised years ago.

In 2009 the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms claimed the shop could not provide the required paperwork trail for 10 firearms, a serious breach of the rules demanded of all firearms licensees.

In a 2010 agreement with the ATF, Will and his adult daughter Stephanie both said "yes" to surrendering their federal firearms licenses. The shop continues to operate but under someone else’s FFL.

This event did occur before “Sons of Guns” began airing on the Discovery Channel, however.

Also, a search and examination of the Internet site “Complaint List – The Consumer’s Voice,” posts a long series of alleged consumer complaints related to Red Jacket’s customer service.

However, prior to the August 28 parting of ways, a strong link existed between Mossberg and Red Jacket.

The firearms firm and Red Jacket – along with Hayden and its CEO,  Joe Meaux - announced April 23 of this year the signing of a multi-year agreement to sell and promote a so-called Red Jacket-branded line of rifles and shotguns.

Not forgotten either is how earlier this year O.F. Mossberg saw another one of its co-joined firearms emblems come under serious fire.

In that case waterfowl maker – and family elder of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” Phil Robertson - was roundly criticized for comments many people said were anti-gay and racially polarizing. The comments first appeared in the up-scale mens' magazine “GQ’s” January 2014 issue.

That incident resulted in A&E suspending Phil Robertson from appearing on the alternative network’s enormously popular program.

A&E later retracted the suspension when the resulting howl raised by Robertson’s and “Duck Dynasty’s” many defenders drowned out those shouted by their collective detractors.

By the time this stew began to boil rapidly, Robertson, a number of his grown sons and the Duck Commander badge had already become entwined within the O.F. Mossberg fold. The firearms firm is currently making and marketing a line of “Duck Commander” brand firearms.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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