To the Editor:
I am grateful to Arnie Alpert and John Lindsay-Poland for their recent OpEd* regarding the weapons exports into Mexico by Sig Sauer. In their piece they profile a number of Mexican civilians who have been the victims of corrupt law enforcement or illegal gangs and killed by Sig Sauer guns made in New Hampshire. Apparently, these weapons find their way into the hands of corrupt police, drug dealers and illegal paramilitary groups.
As the State Representative from the ward in Portsmouth which includes the New Hampshire headquarters of Sig Sauer, I have had concerns about the business practices of this company for some time now, every time a new revelation about the company has appeared in print. As someone who has lived in Germany for 17 years, it seemed to me that this company has been taking more business liberties here in the U.S.A., than it would be allowed to in its home country of Germany.
Let me be very clear: this company does have a genuine business purpose when it sells firearms to government agencies for legitimate law enforcement and military purposes. Also, New Hampshire employees rightfully should assume that the job they do at the company is above-board and complies with the laws of New Hampshire and other national and international laws. However, selling weapons into conflict zones or countries that cannot certify that the weapons stay under the legal control of the approved recipient, usually the Ministry of Defense, is a violation of weapons export laws.
That is why some of Sig Sauer’s business cannot be performed in Germany, or in the European Union, since Germany restricts arms sales to many countries including Mexico. This was the reason why the CEO of Sig Sauer was convicted and fined in Germany for illegal weapons exportation to Columbia in 2019, because it funneling those sales through Sig Sauer in New Hampshire.
In addition, it appears that U.S. Sig Sauer executives have been emboldened to use the good reputation of the State of New Hampshire to skirt the laws as they exist in the U.S.A. as well. A Seacoastonline report from November, 2018 highlighted the case of a former employee who accused Sig Sauer supervisors of sexual harassment while on the job. However, Sig used the argument that the employee’s contract mandated a remediation process, and thereby was able to avoid a jury trial. In a previous case, Sig used the same argument to force a settlement on a Dover woman who claimed that she was fired from her job as Sig’s compliance director after reporting an unlawful shipment of firearms to an end user described as “the Indonesian way of spelling the Ministry of Defense.” She too was forced to settle after she filed a three-count lawsuit alleging violation of the whistleblower protection law, wrongful termination and Family Medical Leave Act retaliation.
Incidents such as these raise concerns regarding how Sig Sauer is operating in New Hampshire, and given the fact that the State of New Hampshire (that is, the taxpayers of New Hampshire) have provided financial assistance to this company it seems only reasonable to require something in return. However, according to the OpEd when Sig Sauer’s Vice President for Operations, Ron Goslin, was asked if his company would be willing to publicly disclose the places where the made in New Hampshire armaments were being exported to, his reply was, “I don’t think that it is something we want to do.”
If that is an accurate quote, I would like to know why Sig Sauer would not want to disclose such information to the New Hampshire public? If they are complying with the law, there should be no concerns.
Rep. Peter Somssich,
District 27 Portsmouth, N.H.
But, but…but what about the jobs? Surely we can overlook their consequences, can’t we?