A handgun for Christmas: Company buys firearms for every employee ahead of holidays

NOW: A handgun for Christmas: Company buys firearms for every employee ahead of holidays

(CBS NEWS) -- A manufacturing company in Hortonville, Wisconsin gave its employees what may be one of the more unusual corporate Christmas gifts: firearms. 

BenShot, which makes glassware embedded with bullets, gave guns to its 16 full-time employees as a holiday gift because it wanted to provide a "memorable" present to its workers. Owner Ben Wolfgram told CBS MoneyWatch that the gift was also about "personal safety," and that the company offered a handgun safety course to employees.

Employees could choose which type of gun they wanted, with a value of up to $500, Wolfgram said. Some employees chose smaller firearms, while others picked larger ones. Some had enough money left over to buy additional equipment, like holsters and ammunition, he added.

"They were excited. They went home and told wives and husbands, and not everyone believed them," he said. "Guys want to buy guns and their wives won't let them."

A couple of employees didn't want the guns, and were given gift cards instead, he said. The value of the gift is far beyond what most corporations provide to their workers at the holidays, with one study finding the typical company gift worth about $79 per employee. 

The gift is in the vein of the company's culture and customer base, which tends to represent law enforcement, such as police and military officers. Wolfgram, who said he's a gun owner, started the family business three years ago as a way to spend more time with his retired father. The company's business has grown from just himself and his father to 16 employees currently. 

The gift may raise eyebrows given the current debate about gun safety and violence. And Wolfgram said he received a few messages that "aren't friendly." He added, "But that's life, I guess."

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