- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2008

HELENA, Mont. | The board of directors for a small Montana gun manufacturer asked the company’s president to resign after word that he supports Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama led to calls on pro-gun Web sites to boycott the company’s products.

Dan Cooper, who co-founded Cooper Firearms of Montana Inc., could not be reached for comment Friday, but he told USA Today on Thursday that he had resigned his post to protect the company’s employees.

“When the Internet anger turned on these innocent people, I felt it was important to distance myself from the company so as not to cause any further harm,” he said in a statement to the newspaper.

In a statement posted on its Web site early Friday but later removed, the Stevensville company said its employees, shareholders and board of directors do not share Mr. Cooper’s political views. The executive was quoted in recent news stories as an Obama supporter, and has donated money to the campaign.

Word of Mr. Cooper’s support for Mr. Obama spread on pro-gun Web sites, with some posting messages calling for a boycott of Cooper Firearms and others labeling the gun executive a traitor.

In its statement, the company said the board of directors asked Mr. Cooper to resign after it appeared the uproar over his support for Mr. Obama could affect employees and shareholders.

“Although we all believe everyone has a right to vote and donate as they see fit, it has become apparent that the fallout may affect more than just Mr. Cooper,” the company said.

“We firmly believe Dan stands by the (Second) Amendment,” it said.

The situation prompted Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to briefly interrupt an elk hunting trip to call Mr. Cooper on Thursday and offer his assistance. Mr. Schweitzer, a Democrat, also supports Mr. Obama.

The governor said Friday he will do what he can to help the company and its 40 employees overcome any lingering backlash.

Both presidential candidates proclaim their respect for gun rights, but Mr. Obama says it is possible to support the Second Amendment along with “common-sense gun laws so that we don’t have kids being shot on the streets of cities like Chicago.”

National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the controversy shows gun owners have a problem with Mr. Obama.



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