Wis. gun company sells paint collection named for Bloomberg
By EMILY FREDRIX
Associated Press Writer
March 24, 2008
A tiny Wisconsin manufacturer is taking aim at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on brightly colored gun paints by naming its latest collection of colors after him.
Lauer Custom Weaponry's Bloomberg Collection features five colors _ one for each borough _ and even uses the mayor's face on some guns at its trade shows.
The gun company says the collection of colors including Brooklyn Blue and Manhattan Red is its way of thanking Bloomberg for publicity he generated when he banned the paints in 2006.
Lauer, the only manufacturer of the DuraCoat paints, has seen sales increase since Bloomberg's ban, especially on the East Coast, said Amy Lauer, operations manager for the company, which has about 12 employees in Chippewa Falls, Wis.
"We got a lot of publicity from it," Lauer said. "We had all these people calling us, wanting us to create more bright colors for them."
So when they came out with the color collection _ which also includes Bronx Rose, Queens Green and Staten Island Orange _ about three months ago, they knew what to name it.
"Since all that publicity came from him, we called it the Bloomberg Collection," Lauer said.
She declined to say how much business increased or what the company's annual sales were.
Bloomberg banned such paints in 2006, saying the playful colors endanger police officers who must quickly determine whether guns are toys or real when someone brandishes a weapon.
On Monday, Bloomberg said the ban was needed when asked his response to the Bloomberg Collection.
"Coloring a handgun to look like a toy is craven and beneath any honest businessman," Bloomberg said. "By coloring these guns, a real one looks like a toy, and a police officer won't be able to tell the difference. This is a tragedy in the making."
Gun control has been a Bloomberg priority in his second term and is an issue he has used to gain national attention. As a result, other firearms enthusiasts have taken aim at Bloomberg, too.
Last April, a National Rifle Association magazine cover depicted Bloomberg as an octopus, saying in a caption: "How NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg extends his reach and his illegal antigun tactics across America."
A month later, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group, organized the Bloomberg Gun Giveaway to thumb its nose at Bloomberg. He launched a series of out-of-state stings against gun shops suspected of allowing illegal purchases of firearms.
The Lauer company's paint kits are mainly used by competition shooters, Lauer said, or people who want to personalize their weapons, especially women. The company is the only one of its kind to sell the paints, which are also available in Uzi Green, German Red, Combat Black and Coyote Brown. According to the company's Web site, any gun enthusiast can apply the paints with an airbrush.
A paint kit of the five-color Bloomberg Collection costs $34.95. A separate Bloomberg kit that allows users to paint a brick-and-mortar facade on guns, complete with graffiti versions of the borough's names, costs $129.95. It includes an airbrush and other tools used to put the paint onto the guns and the Bloomberg Collection of colors.
Bloomberg's face appears in black on the guns of his namesake collection at trade shows. So far, no one has asked to buy a kit that would allow him or her to paint the mayor's face on a gun, Lauer said.
The company hasn't sold too many units of the Bloomberg Collection yet, Lauer said, but it is becoming more popular.
Her father, Steve Lauer, invented DuraCoat and started the company around 2000. They started doing more traditional military colors such as black and tan, but then people started requesting the bright colors. She said search and rescue teams wanted bright yellow, which would make their guns easier to spot.
The company has a shop in Chippewa Falls, which is about 100 miles east of Minneapolis and does all its manufacturing there. Through distributors and the company's Web site, it sells its products worldwide.
Lauer said they've never heard from Bloomberg or his office, but they're glad to get any mentions, even if they're negative.
"We like our sales to go up," she said. "Any kind of attention is good attention in our minds."
Associated Press reporter Sara Kugler contributed to this report from New York.