Not with a Bang but a Whimper: The Sorry Saga of Winchester Comes to a Close

On Thursday, March 30, the U.S. Repeating Arms Company plant in New Haven paid out its last paychecks to its 186 remaining workers and closed its doors, probably forever. However, the City of New Haven and the State of Connecticut are unwilling to let the poor, 140-year-old company die a dignified death.

Winchester_73Governor Jodie Rell has pledged to save everyone’s job, and New Haven Mayor John DeStafano, Jr. has invited other gunmakers to inspect USRAC’s corpse. Apparently Smith & Wesson and Savage (which itself nearly died in the early 1990s) have taken a look, but have been unwilling to put the electric paddles to the Big Red W.

Who can blame them? About 20 years ago when Colt got into terminal do-do, the City of Hartford and the State of Connecticut and whatever union was involved tried to save the enterprise, but that combination could kill off kudzu. Colt continues to limp along, sort of, but it’s never been turned around. Old machinery, incompetent management, and a dated product line will do it every time. Just ask General Motors.

Back in the 1970s, an acquaintance of mine was hired as P.R. director at Colt. The poor man was not merely incompetent, he was crazy, and ended his short, unhappy life in a mental institution. When you see people like this being hired, you know it’s time to pee on the fire and call in the dogs, ‘cause the hunt’s over.