North Texas Daily

College of Business students, faculty disagree on firearm company case study

College of Business students, faculty disagree on firearm company case study

College of Business students, faculty disagree on firearm company case study
March 09
12:00 2023

Some students at the university’s College of Business are concerned by the college’s use of Smith & Wesson, a firearms company, as their case study for this semester’s Business Policy course for final-semester seniors.

The course serves as the capstone course for every major in the G. Brint College of Business. The course has students “applying principles to complex problems at the executive level,” according to its description in the university’s catalog. The course includes a case study of a real company that lasts throughout the semester.

“We were looking for a domestic manufacturing company and something that would give us a chance to explore something [with] a little more […] complex ethics,” course coordinator and professor Kenneth Cory said.

Although Cory proposed Smith & Wesson initially, the rest of the course’s professors agreed on the case study. The G. Brint College of Business Office of the Dean and their diversity, equity and inclusion committee were informed and approved the selection.  

Previous iterations of the course included case studies on Southwest Airlines, Royal Caribbean Cruise and Kohl’s. This semester’s case study centers around Smith & Wesson.

“We wanted to put that in front of students and give them the ability to think through a problem that they might encounter in a business setting that didn’t have an easy answer,” said Marilyn Wiley, the dean of the G. Brint College of Business.

The legality of firearms is a topic of debate in national politics. Forty-eight percent of Americans see gun violence as a “very big problem” in this country, according to a Pew Research Center study. Marketing senior Divya Lal said many students were upset, as there was no “alternative client” for students to select if they were uncomfortable with the firearms company.

“There’s a strong level of discomfort having to tell Smith & Wesson, a gun company, especially where we are politically — ‘Hey, here are opportunities for you to get more guns into people’s hands,’” Lal said. 

There have been 105  mass shootings in 2023 in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive. One recent example, the 2023 Michigan State University shooting, resulted in the deaths of three students.

The Business Leadership Building exterrior on March 7, 2023. Maria Crane

In an anonymous Google Form sent in a GroupMe for one section of the course, students expressed negative opinions surrounding the case study.

“With light of recent tragedies and traumas from gun violence, it’s just hard sitting and hearing talk about Smith & Wesson’s products for profit and its own financial gain,” said one student. 

Wiley said students were given the opportunity to share opinions with professors concerning personal feelings and were “paired with a group that shares their beliefs.” She said the goal was to challenge students without being “insensitive” to differing opinions.

“The instructors felt pretty strongly that this was a case that would allow students to use a deeper level of critical thinking to solve a complex problem,” Wiley said.

Students also expressed confusion surrounding the supposed complicated nature of Smith & Wesson. Finance senior Sebastian Salazar said the company was not “very dynamic” compared to other companies that could have been selected. 

“[In] my opinion, there’s a lot of companies that are way more complex and way more of a challenge to do research on that have just as much of a controversy or just as much of an impact by socioeconomic challenges,” Salazar said.

According to Smith & Wesson’s 2022 annual report, the company ended with its second-highest revenue in company history at $864.1 million, which Salazar described as “nothing.” There is also little competition, with Sturm, Ruger & Co. being the only other publicly traded gun manufacturer in the United States. With the relatively low revenue and the lack of much competition, Salazar said it’s a “tough sell” for a capstone course.

“The notion that this is like a very complicated societal problem is valid,” Salazar said. “But ultimately, there’s not much that you can recommend to Smith & Wesson.”

Eleven students out of approximately 600 enrolled in the course approached professors with concerns at the start of the semester, according to Cory. Salazar said although more students in the course share similar opinions concerning the case study, most did not speak on it because they felt it was “not worth it.”

Cory said the course was modified so that students could speak on different plans concerning the “ethics” of the gun manufacturing company.

“We are explicitly trying to make sure that students are comfortable having a conversation,” Cory said. “There are teams that are supportive of having a conversation that they’re able to take a look at the ethics of one customer group versus another.”

Featured Image Students work at tables in the Business Leadership Building on Feb. 27, 2023. Jaqueline Martinez

About Author

Ismael Belkoura

Ismael Belkoura

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad