Government & Politics

An Exodus From Anti-Gun States

Draconian gun control laws are forcing numerous gun makers out of their home states in search of Liberty.

Jul. 24, 2014
Leaving Maryland for Tennessee

Connecticut used to be where the might of America was built. The Town of Groton, at the mouth of the Thames River, built the nation’s submarines. Sikorsky built military helicopters. And the whole of Connecticut Valley was dotted with shops that milled, blued, fitted and test-fired America’s guns. Along the streams flowing to the Connecticut River, Yankee ingenuity met the need of a nation taming the west and defeating its enemies. The New England weapons industry blasted the nation full into the Industrial Revolution.

But that era is gone, thanks to new gun control laws forcing gun manufacturers to leave their homes in search for gun-friendly states. Anti-gun politicians, who are supposed to be their state’s largest advocates, are happy to see their state’s gun culture simply disappear.

Once Gun Valley

While this phenomenon is happening all over the nation, the state of Connecticut is most notable. The Nutmeg State’s influence on guns is old and deep. Few Nutmeggers remember Simeon North, who received an order from the new American republic, fighting Great Britain for the second time in the War of 1812, for 20,000 flintlock pistols. North began making the pistols at his shop that sat along a stream in Berlin, Connecticut – one of the first times a manufacturer created something with interchangeable parts.

And as the saying goes, God made man, but Sam Colt made them equal. He did this by arming America with his six-shooters, made at his blue, onion-domed factory along the Connecticut River.

Now, leftist politicians led by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy would like to sweep that part of Connecticut’s reputation away. It’s a knee-jerk emotional response, in part, to the 20-year-old sociopath who murdered 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The legislature of what’s also known as the Constitution State passed one of the toughest batteries of anti-gun laws in the country – none of which would have stopped the killer. Yet last year, Malloy told CNN, “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible even if they’re deranged, even if they’re mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background, they don’t care. They want to sell guns.” Connecticut gun manufacturers asked Malloy to apologize. He refused. Talk about an unwelcoming business environment.

Soon after, Connecticut gun companies said they would pack up and move from such a toxic culture. Besides, the taxes are pretty bad.

But that’s easier said than done.

The Exodus

Months later, there are eye-catching headlines of gun companies leaving states. To name but a few, Remington is moving some operations out of New York after that state’s gun laws passed. And manufacturer of firearm accessories Magpul announced that it would leave Colorado because of the state’s laws on gun accessories passed in March 2013. “Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” said Magpul CEO Richard Fitzpatrick.

But the pullout is slow because it takes time to move a business and the companies are loath to leave one of their greatest assets: the workers.

Last year, Mossberg told the North Haven Citizen the workers of Connecticut “possess a skill set for manufacturing firearms that is second to none in the world. Mossberg employs workers who have worked for the company for 40, 50 years and have come from other gun companies such as Colt, Winchester, Marlin and Smith and Wesson.”

In the same article, National Shooting Sports Foundation Senior Vice President Lawrence Keane predicted the exodus from Connecticut would be a quiet one, with companies hiring more workers or adding product lines at their plants in gun-friendly states.

Earlier this month, Mossberg announced it would do just that in Texas. Meanwhile, Beretta, maker of the M9 pistol carried by the U.S. Armed Forces, announced it would move the manufacturing side of its operation out of Maryland, leaving only its administrative headquarters. Beretta plans to mitigate the challenges of producing high-quality firearms at a new plant with new workers by relocating as many of their Maryland workers as they can, said Jeff Reh, a member of the Board of Directors for Beretta USA Corp. “For any additional positions,” he wrote in an email to The Patriot Post, “the area in Tennessee we chose is well regarded for both the number of and quality of workers skilled in similar manufacturing jobs.”

Political Pressure

These companies’ moves are a natural response to a hostile political culture that makes business volatile. One month, Mossberg is making and selling its AR-15-style rifle in Connecticut. The next, AR-15-type guns are illegal in the state.

Beretta’s Reh writes, “We would not have considered looking for a location in another state were it not for the growing anti-2nd Amendment and anti-gun sentiment in the Maryland legislature and Executive branch. Once we started looking, we realized as well how much better other states were at helping businesses grow in their jurisdictions.”

America’s gun culture is changing, but one thing stays the same: Liberty is good for business.

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