Massachusetts state legislators have thrown a straw on the camel’s back and forced 75 jobs to pull up roots and head to the Volunteer State. Citing the Bay State’s “changing climate for firearms manufacturers,” Troy Industries is leaving for Tennessee.
Troy’s announcement highlights the growing hostility from Massachusetts lawmakers towards the firearm industry. Legislators introduced legislation to ban the outright the production of of Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) that are to private citizens – even those outside the commonwealth.
Troy Industries, a manufacturer of MSRs, magazines and other firearm accessories, will instead spend $7.2 million to relocate. Tennessee’s gain is Massachusetts’ loss.
Massachusetts was once the firearm manufacturing epicenter, roots that go back before the American Revolution. That’s not the present reality.
That’s leaving more than gun companies frustrated with state legislators. Northboro, Mass.,-based Gun Owners Action League Executive Director Jim Wallace said, “Sadly … I think there are many people who would love to see them (firearms companies) leave, but I think the state as a whole needs to review their whole outlook on this issue, and actually welcome lawful people and lawful business.”
The move is certain to shift money paid to the state too. The economic impact of the move is significant. The firearm industry in Massachusetts employs 7,800 people. Those jobs pay total wages north of $650 million dollars with an economic output in the state of nearly $2.5 billion.
Those jobs figures mean Massachusetts was in the top ten in total economic output (#6) among the states, as well as in economic impact per capita (#10).
Changes in Latitude
Wallace’s statement was prescient.
“While Troy has enjoyed a very successful period of growth in Massachusetts, the changing climate for firearms manufacturers in the state determined the need for our relocation to Tennessee to ensure the continued success of the company,” founder Steve Troy said.
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee is already recognizing the benefit of Troy Industries’ move to his state.
“I appreciate Troy for choosing to relocate to Tennessee and am proud to partner with this world-renowned firearms manufacturer,” Gov. Lee said. “I thank Troy for this investment and the creation of new jobs for Tennesseans.”
Troy Industries will join fellow firearm makers Barrett Manufacturing and Beretta. Remaining manufacturers Smith & Wesson moved warehousing and distribution operations to Missouri and Kahr Arms already has manufacturing in Pennsylvania, a move they made when New York made business there untenable.
It’s not just Massachusetts. Weatherby left California for Wyoming. Accessories maker Hi Viz closed shop in Colorado for Wyoming too. Magpul left Colorado for Wyoming too, along with locating business operations in Texas. Connecticut-based Stag Arms announced a move to Wyoming. PTR left Connecticut for South Carolina. Kimber expanded production in Alabama over New York, and later move the company’s headquarters there. Ruger opened manufacturing in North Carolina.
But Changes in Attitude
The increased hostility and gun control push by states and even the federal government do not reflect the changing attitudes of Americans. Support for increased gun control is at the lowest levels in several years, as reported by Gallup, Washington Post/ABC, Newsweek and other polling outlets.
The rifles that Troy Industries produces – the AR-15 or MSR – are the most-popular selling centerfire rifles in America. There are more than 20 million in circulation today and are used for lawful hunting, recreational target shooting and self-defense.
The record-shattering gun-buying trends also changed the political calculus for politicians looking to impose stricter gun control on their voters. Twenty-one million National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) for the sale of a firearm in 2020.
NSSF surveys estimated over 8.4 million were first-time buyers and they’re from every walk of life. The trend hasn’t slowed a bit in 2021 and demonstrates why gun control has stalled in the nation’s capital.
Out in the states, legislators shouldn’t be surprised when major manufacturers like Troy Industries call their bluff. There’s plenty of demand for firearms. Lawmakers would be wise to take note.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.