Ilion, N.Y. — it is reasonable to assume, I would venture, that nobody much cares if his toaster was made in China. Nor are we greatly vexed that our television set was manufactured in Korea and our khakis stitched together in the Philippines. Price, quality, and convenience have long inured even the most renitent of Americans to the regularity of free trade. Where once possessing foreign-built goods was a sign of sophistication, it is now quotidian. Who, after all, would boast to his guests that his kitchen furniture is “from Sweden”?
Yet there still exist some products that benefit enormously from that captivating “Made in America” label. Motorcycles, especially in the cruiser market, are one such example. The other is firearms. The term “gun culture” is so widely and indiscriminately bandied around American political discourse that it has come to mean next to nothing, but it is true nonetheless that since the first colonists arrived on these shores Americans have enjoyed a uniquely sentimental relationship with personal weaponry.