The New York Times notices that there are an awful lot of firearms manufacturers based in decidedly gun-hostile states. Places like Massachusetts, Connecticut and Illinois. It’s a situation that’s bemused and befuddled gun rights supporters for years, many of whom have asked why they stay in environments that are so unfriendly to their bread and butter products. Tom Hanks in the role of Charlie Wilson had the answer. When asked, in the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, why Congress says one thing and does nothing, he replied, “tradition mostly”…
But as the NYT takes note, a number of states that are much more gun-friendly and job-friendly are trying to rectify the situation.
[R]ecently, states like Idaho, Alabama and Montana have presented a novel argument as part of an effort to lure the firearms industry’s high-paying jobs south and west: Gun makers would be happier and more successful among citizens who regularly use firearms than they would be remaining in states trying to limit gun rights.
The cultural argument is carrying more weight with firearms firms these days. Along with regulatory and union factors, it’s just nice to do business and pay taxes in a place where you know you’re appreciated.
“When we approach gun makers, we first make the cultural argument,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, a hunter who recruits firearms makers at gun shows. “People in business want to feel their business is wanted and welcome in the communities where they are located. In South Dakota, the culture is there. We don’t regulate firearms businesses out of existence.”
“They are pitched by places like South Dakota, Alabama and Montana, and undoubtedly part of the sales pitch is: ‘We have a better environment. Our Legislature respects the Second Amendment,’ ” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry’s trade group.
If retaining these businesses and the jobs they support are important to these states, it’s hard to tell by recent legislative efforts. Anti-gun states continue to shoot themselves in the foot with proposed new regulations that would make keeping gun businesses located there even more difficult.
Gun manufacturers say proposed micro-stamping laws could drive Colt out of Connecticut and Remington out of New York, which are among more than half a dozen states where the legislation has been introduced. California, which employs more firearms industry workers than any other state, has already approved a micro-stamping law that is pending.
Carlton S. Chen, a vice president at Colt, said the company would have few qualms about leaving Connecticut if micro-stamping became law.
“At that point, we and other firearms manufacturers doing business in Connecticut would need to seriously consider whether we should completely move ourselves out of Connecticut and relocate to a friendlier state,” Mr. Chen said in written testimony to a state legislative committee in 2008. “The upshot would be a loss of thousands of jobs.”
Despite their inhospitable business environments, the anti-gun states are trying to hold on to what they have. Massachusetts gave Smith & Wesson a $6 million tax credit to move jobs from New Hampshire. They also printed a brochure hyping the state’s firearms history going back to the Springfield arsenal creation in the 19th century. But history and tradition probably won’t cut much ice in the face of right to work laws and welcoming environments elsewhere. And there’s another time-tested American tradition: voting with your feet.
The quest for firearms jobs has made for some unexpected partnerships. In New York, Senator Charles E. Schumer issued a news release in May praising Remington after it agreed to move a factory from Maine, bringing with it 40 to 50 jobs.
The release made no mention of Senator Schumer’s record supporting gun control. Instead, it said Mr. Schumer had “led the effort in Congress to repeal the law that limited competition for small arms contracts, so that Remington can now compete for small arms contracts with the Department of Defense.”
Pardon me while I throw up a little.
But the business-poaching states have another, less obvious factor in their favor in addition to culture and business environment – the apparent incurable stupidity of those running the anti-gun states. After losing Les Baer Custom to Iowa and 1,000 Winchester ammo manufacturing jobs to Mississippi:
Marcelyn Love, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity wrote in an e-mail, “I am not aware of an increased effort by other states to lure specific manufacturing sectors from Illinois.”
Keep up the good work, Marcy.