A standing room-only crowd of SHOT Show 2022 attendees and media packed in to hear from six Second Amendment-supporting governors talk about firearm businesses. Audience members got to hear from the governors discuss the firearm industry in their respective states and what they’re doing to protect the traditions and future of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
Moderated by NSSF’s Larry Keane, Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel, the governors made news, drew laughs and applause and set the tone for the fight ahead within states and on the federal level for firearm rights.
“This really was a home run and we hope to do this again in future years and have even more governors come and help recruit our industry members to their states,” Keane said.
There was no shortage of star power on stage from the governors participating. Republican Governors Brian Kemp (Ga.), Kristi Noem (S.D.), Pete Ricketts (Neb.), Mark Gordon (Wyo.), Mike Dunleavy (Alaska) and Asa Hutchinson (Ark.) all had plenty to say about their individual efforts as well as working together to backstop and rebuff national gun control pushes.
From South Dakota, Gov. Noem wasted little time when she took over the Governor’s mansion. “For us, our Second Amendment rights are…the most fundamental rights that we embrace with our full being.”
Gov. Noem explained the business environment in her state and how they are attracting hunters and recreational shooters to come north.
“We have a lot of firearm manufacturers and ammunition businesses in our state,” Gov. Noem said. “In fact this year with the revenue increases we’ve seen, I’ve eliminated all costs to getting your permits. If you need to run a federal background check…we’re going to pay for it. The very first bill I signed years ago as governor was constitutional carry. That set the priority for my administration.”
Another executive who’s been successful at getting firearm businesses to relocate to his state is Georgia’s Gov. Kemp. Georgia’s home to at least 74 firearm manufacturers and some major players recently announced facility expansions to accommodate their growth, including Taurus and Remington.
“Like all these other great governors up here, we’re working hard on economic development every day across the whole sector of the industry, and for me personally we’ve approached that in our state for a long time,” Gov. Kemp said. “When you look at these manufacturers and where their facilities are around the state, they’re in communities where they have loyal and some of the biggest customers. It would not be smart to break into a home in any one of these places.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts put it plainly why he felt it imperative to attend SHOT Show 2022.
“One of the most important reasons why we’re all here is to show our support for the Second Amendment to our neighbors and communities,” Gov. Ricketts said.
Major Employers, Serious Impact
The list of firearm industry businesses making the call to pull up stakes and move out of states with laws hampering and restricting Second Amendment rights is long and growing. Together, the governors on stage represent a huge footprint and sizable economic impact of firearm industry businesses and jobs in their states.
According to the most recent industry data, gun manufacturers and related industry businesses employ more than 340,000 Americans nationally with a nearly $63.5 billion impact.
Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson is well aware of that fact, having made the trip to SHOT Show every year it’s been held while he’s been in office. For Arkansas, it’s more than 7,000 jobs and $1.6 billion. For Alaska and Gov. Dunleavy, it’s 1,100 jobs and $122 million. For Gov. Gordon in Wyoming, the footprint is 1,400 jobs and $300 million.
Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Arkansas are all in the top ten states for firearm industry job growth per capita while Wyoming, Georgia and Alaska are top ten states for growth in economic output.
The strong showing of support wasn’t lost on forum attendees.
“I think it was great, number one, that they [governors] were here to support NSSF; number two that they support the Second Amendment; and number three how they support the industry in their states in general,” said forum attendee John Richardson. “All politics are local… and the governors really reinforce that.”
Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.