James Debney is a member of the NRAs Golden Ring of Freedom for donating over$ 1m to fight against gun control
As CEO of America’s second-largest gun manufacturer, James Debney- whose company attained the assault rifle used last week to kill 17 people at a high school in Florida- makes $5.3 m a year.
As a second-amendment proselytizer, Debney, of American Outdoor Brands( formerly Smith& Wesson ), has repeatedly built donations to political action committees opposing gun control in the United States.
And as a top donor to the National Rifle Association( NRA ), Debney wears a distinctive gold blazer with a crest designating his membership in the group’s elite Golden Ring of Freedom society, reserved for million-dollar backers.
But that coat is something of a strange fit for a British migrant with a background in bin liners.
Debney read chemistry at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in 1989, took a business degree at the Keele University and cut his teeth in consumer goods as a former managing director of Baco consumer products and then chairman of Presto products, a $500 m plastics business.
By his own admission, Debney knew next to nothing about handguns when he took the reins at the US gunmaker, which did $900 m in marketings last year.” It takes a while to understand the business, especially if you’re British and have a limited knowledge of pistols to begin with ,” Debney told the regional business publishing BusinessWest in 2012.
Judging by the performance of his company in the last two years, the learning curve may not have been particularly steep.
As president and CEO since 2011, Debney, 50, has led American Outdoor Brands through an awkward rebranding, an underwhelming expansion into outdoor gear and a 66% breakdown in stock cost since August 2016.
When it hired Debney for the top chore, Smith& Wesson calculated that his background expertise in consumer products would apply in the world of handgun marketings. If you can sell garbage bags, the thinking seemed to be, you can sell firearms- at the least in the USA.
But thrust under the national spotlight by the country’s latest school shooting, Debney is describing fresh scrutiny as an expert in plastics extrusion who somehow became one of the United States’ most vocal advocates for the NRA, a lobbying group many Americans see as an enabler in the country’s mass shooting epidemic.
American Outdoor Brands did not reply to multiple requests by email and phone for commentary. A petition via an American Outdoor Brand spokesperson to establish whether Debney is a US citizen ran unanswered. Nor has the company released a statement on the Parkland, Florida, shooting where one of its M& P-1 5 weapons was used to bring demise to a high school.
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