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What’s wrong with the Cowboys partnering with veteran-owned Black Rifle Coffee?

Charlotte Observer - 7/8/2022

Millions of law-abiding citizens own guns for self-defense, home protection, and even just target practice. The vast majority don’t commit crimes with them, let alone participate, encourage or support mass shootings. A huge swath of them are veterans who served our country with honor.

And yet, the Dallas Cowboys are taking criticism for partnering with Black Rifle Coffee Company, specifically for announcing the deal just after the Highland Park, Ill., shooting on July Fourth.

The typical response was similar to what Jon Helmkamp, sports gambling editor at the New York Post, tweeted back: “Impeccable timing. Truly. Guys. This was literally 6 weeks ago IN YOUR STATE, and there was a mass shooting YESTERDAY.”

Black Rifle Coffee Company is a Salt Lake City-based firm that’s fast becoming competitive with major chains such as Starbucks because the coffee is delicious, the brand is noticeable, and the co-owners are veterans.

I’ve met the co-founders of Black Rifle Coffee Company. Evan Hafer, Mat Best and Jarred Taylor are all veterans who served this country honorably, in multiple tours abroad. More patriotic men you will not find. They love liberty, coffee, their country — and yes, guns.

“We’re pro-gun, pro-America, pro-law enforcement. We’ve always been that way,” Hafer told me in a 2021 interview.

Hafer combined his love for guns and coffee in the brand, a genius move from a business perspective. Rather than shying away from their love of the military — Hafer was a Green Beret, then a CIA contractor; Best was a Ranger; and Taylor was a tactical air-control party specialist in the Air Force — they embraced it. Guns and words associated with guns, like “Freedom Roast,” and “AK-47 Espresso Blend” label their coffee.

What’s more, Black Rifle Coffee Company employs more than 500 people, half of which are veterans, reservists, or military spouses. They give back to their communities. Implying that it’s somehow bad form for the Dallas Cowboys to partner with them merely because of the gun references seems like guilt by association.

To say the timing of the partnership between the two companies was bad because it followed a mass shooting is to truly demonstrate either ignorance or malice: Are you suggesting these men who have honorably served this country support or are masterminds behind mass shootings? Are you suggesting that the brand’s connection to guns somehow fuels the lost, purposeless young me behind the latest shootings? This is disingenuous at best and libelous at worst.

People who favor gun control tend to want to make all references to guns taboo — again, insulting millions of law-abiding gun owners. They transfer the capacity of the gun, what it can do if placed in the wrong hands, onto the mechanism itself and infer that even talking about guns is somehow insensitive or immoral. This is a dishonest way to discuss gun-related crimes and especially a brand like Black Rifle.

Black Rifle Coffee Company and its co-founders no more support mass shootings than Nike supports football players convicted of domestic violence. It’s lazy thinking, and it does a disservice to men who endured combat, came home, got back on their feet and built a business people enjoy.

A relevant line from an old Rudyard Kipling poem reads: Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.

Black Rifle Coffee Company co-founders have defended this country abroad so we might remain safe here at home. I’m sure Americans are grateful for that sacrifice. They started a successful business, remain true patriots, and give back to their community.

Criticizing the Cowboys for the partnership demonstrates a lack of understanding of shootings, the brand and the veterans who operate it.

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