Gun-friendly states woo firearms makers

February 24, 2013 5:35 pm  

‘The enemies of freedom are waging an all-out assault’

(USA Today) – States claiming to be friendly to the Second Amendment are trying to poach gun and ammunition makers and related manufacturers from other states, especially those that have passed or are contemplating tougher gun laws.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, this month has written at least 13 manufacturers in states from Oregon to New York saying his state would not impose “unwarranted government intrusion into your business.”

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Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., has written manufacturers in New York and Colorado inviting them to relocate. Idaho economic development officials and Mississippi’s Republican speaker of the House also have written similar letters.

“The enemies of freedom are waging an all-out assault on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which we have sworn to protect and defend,” said Duncan’s letter to George Kollitides, chief executive officer of Freedom Group Inc., whose Remington Arms division has a manufacturing plant in Ilion, N.Y. “At a time when our government is consistently thwarting the ability of individuals to own businesses, voluntarily trade goods and services, and grow our economy, South Carolina is committed to a different story. In South Carolina, we believe in the right to keep and bear arms.”

Duncan also wrote the chief operating officer of Magpul, a Colorado company that makes ammunition magazines, gun stocks and other custom add-ons for semi-automatic rifles that President Obama and some members of Congress, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., want to ban. Colorado’s legislature is contemplating several gun-control measures, including limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds.

When the legislation first came to light, Magpul officials told the Denver Post they would consider leaving the state if the measure to limit rounds in magazines became law, saying it would be difficult doing business in a state that banned its products. Other companies that supply Magpul have since said they would follow if Magpul left.

Repeated attempts to reach Magpul officials were unsuccessful. So were attempts to reach a spokesperson for Remington Arms, which was founded in upstate New York but is now headquartered in North Carolina.

New York last month passed one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, which among other things banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. When he signed it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, stressed that the new restrictions would not affect rifles and shotguns used by hunters.

In an interview, Duncan said that was not the point.

“This isn’t about deer hunting,” he said. “The Second Amendment is about our right to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves.”

Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, said that “while we appreciate Congressman Duncan’s leadership and economic development efforts, we don’t discuss details of ongoing talks with any company that may be interested in moving to South Carolina.”

The Colorado House has passed several gun-related measures, including limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has said he would sign such legislation if it passes the state Senate.

Eric Brown, a spokesman for Hickenlooper, said that if a company left the state because of gun restrictions, “that would be unfortunate.

“But Colorado is growing,” he said. “We are adding a lot of jobs.”

One company approached by Perry, the Texas governor, already has said no.

Crimson Trace Corp. of Wilsonville, Ore., which makes laser-sighting systems for handguns, will stay put. Kent Thomas, director of marketing for the company, said the firm is happy with the “entrepreneurial spirit of Oregon” and that “there is no reason for us to move.”

Bills to ban the sale of high-capacity magazines and assault rifles were introduced in the Oregon legislature but they have stalled. State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said last week he would not take up either bill because they were issues that Congress should deal with.

Some states that have robust outdoors industries have been trying to attract gun and ammunition manufacturers for years.

Even before the most recent escalation in the gun-violence debate following the murder of 20 children and six adults in December in Newtown, Conn., Idaho was trying to attract companies “not only within the arms and ammunition sector, but broader — companies that fall within what we call recreational technology,” said Megan Ronk, spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Commerce. The best way to explain the state’s business targets, she said: makers of any products sold at Cabela’s, a leading outdoors, hunting and fishing retailer.

Ronk said that as other states consider gun restrictions, “that creates some advantages for us. We in this state have traditionally been very friendly to companies within this industry, and will continue to be so. Certainly looking at other states that are imposing more restrictive laws” is part of a business-recruitment strategy.

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