In lieu of the traditional holiday bonus, one Wisconsin company is giving its employees a handgun for Christmas instead, according to local channel WISN 12 News. The family-owned BenShot LLC, which manufactures novelty glasses with bullets embedded in the side, gave all of its employees a personal weapon in order to promote safety and to build team spirit.
Co-owner Ben Wolfgram says rather than handing each individual a gun, the company gave each employee a gift certificate for a weapon in order to keep with local laws and to ensure that a background check is completed.
"That way the background check was done by the store," Wolfgram said. "We are a small, close-knit team at BenShot. I want to make sure all of my employees are safe and happy – a handgun was the perfect gift."
Employees were required to take a gun safety class before obtaining their weapons.
BenShot employs 16 full-time employees, many of whom are military veterans. The company gained success on Amazon selling shot glasses, rocks glasses, pint glasses, and beer glasses with a real bullet, which looks like it has been fired, embedded into the side of the glass. Some glasses also have an American flag with the word "'merica" etched into the glass.Not every employee has handled a weapon before. Two employees declined the present after initially receiving it. However, they appear to be reconsidering after taking the gun safety class.
Chelsea Priest, head of media relations, says that she was grateful to receive the gift.
"For him to stand for something and for the company to stand for keeping us safe is really awesome for them to do that," she said.
"I've never been a part of anything like this," she added.
Wolfgram said that the gift cost the company about $8,000.
"Now we have an entire armed staff," he told the Appleton Post Crescent. "I think that's pretty good."
Hortonville, the town where the company is based, is about 120 miles north of Milwaukee. It is considered a safe community, with only one aggravated assault in 2016.
The gift has gained national attention in the wake of the October 27 shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue and the November 7 shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
Users on Twitter have responded with a mixed reaction, with some championing the company, while others see it as a contribution to the gun culture problem in America and calling for a boycott.