Every community has its hot-button words. Words that when they pop up in a headline or, say, a patent, rational minds storm out the door; any willingness to ask clarifying questions in tow. In this community, two of those words are “Database” and “Government”. I witnessed some of this reactionary fervor start to simmer recently when someone was rummaging around on google patent search and turned up this filing from Geissele:
United States Patent Number: US20210056211A1
Applicant: WHG Properties , LLC , North Wales , PA ( US )
Inventor: William H. Geissele , Lower Gwynedd , PA ( US ) ; Joseph Plunkett , JR . , Clifton
Heights , PA ( US )
This patent depicts a master ledger database, with conditions-based rulesets and a connection to a government server. So, as you can imagine, the gossip rocket boosters were charged and off they went. But take a closer look at the language of the patent this and it doesn’t jump out as a database in partnership with the government to document John from Ohio’s purchase history down to the serial number. The truth is that the practical application of this system is not nearly as grandiose and Geissele does not appear to be building a nefarious gun registry for their traditional customers. It is important that we remember what Geissele is at the end of the day, a business trying to make money. We engaged in some creative speculation over use cases and with some reasonable confidence that we were on the right track approached Geissele to see if they would comment on the matter.
Hypothetical Business Case:
The outlined design appears to support a custody/ownership management system and the patent language clearly states is for the purposes of leasing, specifically an institutional term leasing program. This intent is specifically stated in the description section under subsection 5, stating “The present disclosure relates generally to tracking ownership of a firearm, and more particularly, to leasing and repossessing a firearm.”
A leasing program is an opportunity for a high-end manufacturer to broaden their clientele to people or entities that either wouldn’t normally make the per unit spend in their price range, don’t need a permanent asset on their books, or need firearms, but find that government appropriations red tape related to a service contract is easier to navigate than a full-blown purchase. Presumably, this would be a way to bring these folks onto your book of business without compromising margins, and would likely serve to increase them.
- Private Security Companies (at home and even abroad for overseas term contracts)
- Smaller Police Departments (municipalities, rural sheriff departments, etc.)
- Purpose specific federal/state contracts etc.
Once the term is up, the leasing company in question will have earned a decent profit and still have an opportunity to sell the used rifles, making decent revenue on that sale as well. This second part also allows buyers that are typically discouraged from enjoying their products due to a high price point, to acquire them second hand. Everybody wins.
The patent provides the underlying technology which can be used to securely manage the logistics of giving custody of a regulated product to a 3rd party, while maintaining sufficient records to ensure the satisfaction of federal authorities. Selfishly, this would also bolster inventory documentation in the event of an insurance claim. Given how often government agencies are misplacing firearms these days, this level of documentation is more than prudent to protect their business interest. Exclusive servicing contracts would also conceivably be affiliated with these lease agreements. At the end of the day, who would they really be monitoring? The answer is government and pseudo-government entities. This would leave this company clear of any 2nd amendment infringement or backdoor gun control measures.
Comments from Geissele:
Geissele did replying to our questions and spoke with their COO, Joe Plunket, who shares the inventor line on this patent. Joe confirmed that our assumptions were correct and what is outlined above was indeed the purpose of filing the patent. Joe also noted that the initiative basically died on the vine, hence our comic callout below. Geissele concluded, after initial considerations for this program, that their focus should continue to be “making the best firearms possible” and that it wasn’t the right time to complicate things by stepping outside of their established business model.. Given the rate that inventory has been moving of the shelves for the last two years, I don’t necessarily blame them. Firearms manufacturers arent hurting for business at the moment. Fast forward a few years and the long dormant patent filing was approved, which only served to drum up speculation. This system didn’t make it past the concept phase and no prototype was even built. When I asked if they had planned to pick this initiative back up in the future, Mr. Plunket communicated that you can never leave anything off the table, but that their focus has not changed from when this project was abandoned.
In closing, if Geissele doesn’t resurrect this program, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another company replicate the model in the future. From a business standpoint, this is an innovative way to make money in an industry not known for remarkably flexible business strategies. For now, I think we can all consider ourselves safe from 2nd Amendment Armageddon by a rifle maker from Pennsylvania.