News Benchmade Cuts Up Guns, Internet In Flames Patrick Roberts February 21, 2019 Editor’s Note, February 22, 2019: With the original information that was published online by the Oregon City Police Department, we believed that Benchmade’s services were used to properly destroy the firearms per the ATF’s acceptable destruction procedures. We were wrong. Benchmade’s services were used to cut up firearms so that the gun pieces could fit into a specific-sized box that the OCPD could then take to a third party for final destruction. The title has also been updated to reflect this information. The previous title was Benchmade Destroys Guns, Internet in Flames. Over the last day, Benchmade and the Oregon City Police Department have been battered on social media everywhere. Why do you ask? Because Benchmade cut up guns in order to assist the Oregon City Police Department in an effort to comply with the department’s policies. Once photos of a Benchmade employee cutting firearms at the Benchmade facility hit the Oregon City Police Facebook page, it didn’t take long for 2A supporters to share their thoughts. WHAT STARTED IT ALL The initial post was quickly discovered and screenshotted before the Oregon City Police deleted it, presumably as a result of the backlash they received. The post included photos of a shotgun, what appears to be a sword, and a lever action rifle being torch-cut by two unidentified persons. Also on the table was an SKS that wasn’t shown being destroyed, but it’s safe to assume the rifle suffered the same fate as the ones pictured. The text of the post read as follows: Thank you Benchmade Knife Company for assisting us today by cutting up guns that are ready to be destroyed. Unfortunatly the original post from Oregon City PD didn’t include much information beyond there were guns being destroyed and they were in the Benchmade facility. WHY WERE THE FIREARMS DESTROYED? We reached out the Oregon City’s Community Communications Manager, Kristin Brown, for more information about what was going on in the photos. Brown told us that the police department follows Oregon statute 98.245 and 98.336 when disposing of property. She also stated that the firearms were being cut up in order to be placed into boxes that were too small to fit the long guns in without cutting them to size. When asked about obvious rifle length boxes in the photo that could have been used for shipping to their third-party contractor responsible for the destruction of property in accordance with state law, Brown said that she wasn’t quite sure why the police department didn’t use those to ship the firearms slated for destruction. Brown also shared that the police department normally uses a local machine shop to cut firearms to the required size for the box, but for an unknown reason, the machine shop declined to assist the police this time. That is when OCPD turned to Benchmade. We also reached out to the Oregon City Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Captian Shaun Davis, who informed us that it was Benchmade employees that were photographed cutting the firearms, not employees of the city. He also clarified that the third party service that they use for evidence destruction in accordance with state law requires all of the property to be destroyed to fit inside a particular size box. When asked what size the box was, Davis was unable to provide dimensions while speaking with us. While it is within the law for the police department to auction off seized firearms, Davis stated that in the 20 years he has been employed at the Oregon City Police Department, they have never sold firearms to licensed dealers. HOW THE GUNS WERE DESTROYED The photos show a Benchmade employee using a plasma cutter to cut the firearms. It should be noted that the ATF gives strict guidelines as to how a firearm is to be properly destroyed and a plasma cutter is not an “approved” method. The reason that an oxy/acetylene torch is specified in the demilling of firearms is that a larger amount of material is removed when the cut is made as well as the slag left on the edges of the cut. Check out the vintage-feeling, but informative video posted below about the difference between the two types of metal cutting tools. If the Oregon City Police Department didn’t have the tools on hand to properly demill the firearms as mandated by department or city policy, why wouldn’t they follow the guidelines of the ATF? Not only does it appear that they used the wrong tool, but the photos don’t show a single cut in the prescribed places, likely leaving the receiver intact. Another question that many were left with is why would the Police Department ask Benchmade for assistance when the Clackamas Fire District Station 5 has the proper equipment on hand. We asked the station and were told that they need to be ready to respond to an emergency at any given moment, using the equipment for non-rescue tasks would jeopardize that readiness. Not a bad answer. How about the Oregon City Public Works? We reached out to Public Works but weren’t able to confirm they have an oxy/acetylene torch at their disposal. It is a rather common piece of equipment and should be a tool that is in common use within Public Works, especially if they have welding equipment. If you aren’t familiar with it, here is the ATF’s guide on properly destroying firearms: How to Properly Destroy Firearms SOCIAL MEDIA GOES INTO A FRENZY As you might expect, 2A supporters angrily took to social media to lambaste Benchmade and the Oregon City Police Department for the destruction of firearms. Memelords like the_engineering_dept, extendoclipazine, and notthe_atf have come up with some reasonably funny Benchmade memes, bringing even more attention to the issue. Doug at the_engineering_dept nailed the tool used to cut the guns up in the photos and tossed a Benchmade logo on the side. https://www.instagram.com/p/BuISWYpnHSy/ Instagram user extendoclips took a rather predictable stab at the NRA and Yeti while roasting Benchmade. View this post on Instagram Lemme get in on this while it's still hot #operatorroast #whosthatpokemon #guns #ffl #gunsofinstagram #firearms #gunmemes #roast #2a #memes #funny #edgymemes #comedy #offensivememes #edgy #cringe #humor #offensive #sad #gunmemes #glock #freedom #tactical #igmilitia #firearms #selfdefense #murica #pewpew #homedefense #pewpewlife A post shared by Ex FFL dealer guy (@extendoclipazine) on Feb 20, 2019 at 7:43pm PST In yet another meme, user notthe_atf boiled down all of the comments from the 2A community into a single photo. View this post on Instagram When are companies going to learn… • #benchmade #knifememes #gunmemes #nra #nationalrifleassociation #igmilitia A post shared by James Hetfield (@notthe_atf) on Feb 21, 2019 at 8:41am PST One of the more notable comments left on the Benchmade post with over 3,700 reactions from other users was from Jim Fuller, founder of Rifle Dynamics. Jim Fuller’s comment: I’ve been asked by agencies to destroy guns, it’s not in my company’s business ethics to do that. I myself had a very expensive gun stolen from me, used in a crime, confiscated but I was refused to get it back because it was “used in a crime” and it was destroyed because some anti-gun politicians mandated it. You guys could have nicely said no. Many commenters even did some digging into the political donation history of Benchmade. According to OpenSecrets.org, the company has contributed a total of $29,803 since the 2012 election cycle to political candidates. Of that nearly $30,000, the last time that a Republican candidate received a donation was in 2012 for the amount of $500, the remaining $29,303 in donations have been made to Democratic candidates. It should be noted that Open Secrets has a disclaimer on the bottom of the page that states, “The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from organizations’ PAC, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families,” that has been largely ignored by those discussing the political donation aspect. OREGON CITY POLICE RESPOND Following the social media outrage, the Oregon City Police removed the original post and replaced it with a more detailed post that read like it was intended as a response to messages sent to the page but was repurposed as a hasty official statement. Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band and Mayor Dan Holladay’s collective response cleared some things up that were left unknown in the first post. If you read the post carefully, it suggests that the police department was merely present when the guns were cut up. We confirmed with the Oregon City Police Department that the firearms were indeed cut up by employees of Benchmade using Benchmade equipment. They also stated that they took the pieces for “final destruction” which is confusing. If the firearms had been destroyed per ATF requirements, they could have just tossed them moved on with life. But as previously discussed, the firearms were not completely destroyed and would be shipped to a third party for proper destruction. From Oregon City: Good evening, We understand some of our followers are upset with Benchmade knives because of a recent post we put out. The post did not give everyone the full story on why the guns were required to be destroyed. We receive guns that are turned in from community members that they no longer want the guns and want them destroyed. We also have guns that are evidence and when a case is adjudicated the guns are ordered by the court to be destroyed. These guns were required to be destroyed. We reached out to Benchmade to do us a favor at our request. Benchmade is a strong supporter of law enforcement and the Oregon City community. We were present when the guns were cut and we took them for final destruction. We apologize for not informing everyone on the initial post. Benchmade is an excellent company and we urge everyone that had said they no longer support Benchmade to reconsider once they have all the information. Again, we apologize for not informing everyone with our recent post. Respectfully, Chief Jim Band and Mayor Dan Holladay BENCHMADE RESPONDS Benchmade posted an official statement on their Facebook page following the outburst or anger on social media. The official statement contained a quote from Chief Jim Band that stated the OCPD does not sell firearms and it is the department’s policy to destroy them. Benchmade issues statement addressing the destruction of firearms in their facility. From Benchmade: Benchmade is aware of the recent post from our local Oregon City Police Department. – We apologize for the confusion and concern that this post created. These were firearms that the Oregon City Police Department had to destroy in alignment with their policies. Oregon City Police requested the use of specialty equipment within the Benchmade facility to follow these requirements, and as a supporting partner of our local police force, we obliged the request. – Benchmade is a proud and unwavering supporter of both law enforcement and Second Amendment rights. These are commitments that we do not take lightly and will continue to support well into the future. – When asked for clarity from Oregon City Police Department, Chief Jim Band made the following statement: “When property is to be destroyed, it is the policy of the Oregon City Police Department to destroy property, including firearms, in accordance to our procedures and ORS. The Oregon City Police Department does not sell firearms.” -Benchmade CONTINUED OUTRAGE Historically the firearm community is not quick to forgive a company that they feel has donned a red coat and betrayed a founding principle of this county, this time seems to be no different. The continued memes, comments, and other stabs at Benchmade’s cooperation with local police haven’t slowed in the least. In fact, the amount of comment frequency seems to be increasing by the hour. Expect this post to be updated with new information as we learn more. ABOUT THE AUTHOR With a passion for pistols, precision rifles, and quality gear, Patrick Roberts focuses on cutting through marketing fluff to provide information that an enthusiast can rely on. In the quest for more knowledge, Roberts spends most of his time on the range improving his skill with a firearm with drills and classes in an effort to suck less. Roberts also runs FirearmRack.com with the same passion for quality information that is the centerpiece of all content he creates. You can also find him on Instagram at @thepatrickroberts or the YouTube channel Firearm Rack. 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