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Dell and Our Right to Arms

Saturday, March 2, 2002

This week has seen a great deal of discussion on the Internet and via e-mail regarding the Dell Computer Corporation. It all started when the president of the American Pistolsmiths Guild, Inc., Jack Weigand of Weigand Combat Handguns, Inc., attempted to order a Dell notebook computer. But Dell had implemented a screening process (in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11) that included holding up orders to companies with certain words in their name. This screening process was designed to better ensure compliance with federal export laws. One of those words is "combat," and Mr. Weigand’s order was cancelled in the screening process, pending a follow-up by company staff. But in the case of Mr. Weigand, no such follow-up occurred, and when the concerned customer called Dell, he was told his order was cancelled. Mr Weigand naturally became concerned that Dell was opposed to the firearms industry.

When NRA became aware of this situation, we contacted Dell, and the company has been very responsive to our concerns. It also quickly contacted Mr. Weigand to offer an apology and an explanation as to why his order had been cancelled. Dell representatives have shown a genuine concern over the implication that it takes a position in the debate over firearms, and it has gone to great lengths to assure NRA, and Mr. Weigand, that the company is not interested in taking sides in this political discussion.

Additional concerns have been raised over Dell’s affiliation with a little-known online fundraising program called EduOrg.com—set up to help raise money for colleges, interest groups, and other non-profit organizations. The group has established separate websites to assist "educational institutions...politically conservative organizations, and...politically liberal organizations." The concern over Dell stems from the fact that it is included as part of EduOrg.com’s online virtual shopping mall, and one of the non-profit groups that could profit through EduOrg.com is the gun-ban lobby formerly known as "Handgun Control, Inc." (While HCI has officially changed its name, EduOrg.com, through its "politically liberal organizations" site, still lists the group under its old name.) When contacted about this, Dell officials stated they were looking into this partnership, but it should also be pointed out that Dell did not choose to be listed on HCI’s section, as it is simply automatically listed on the site of any organization that gets involved with this online fundraising system. In fact, one can also find Dell listed on all of the sites under the conservative heading. Such "affinity" programs have become commonplace in the era of the Internet, and generally do not reflect any given political bent on the part of participating vendors when they do not specifically benefit a single group or cause.

NRA will continue to explore these issues, but it would appear that Dell as a corporation does not support an anti-gun agenda, as some have been reporting. Rest assured that we will continue to report on any developments on this front.

Read the letter from Michael Dell concerning this issue

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.