Monday, June 17, 2013

Texas, South Dakota seek to poach Connecticut's gun makers

The drive to lure firearms companies from gun-control-friendly states to gun-friendly states is picking up steam.

Governors from Texas and South Dakota are both expected to make their low-taxes, good-workers, firearms-friendly Southwest and Upper Midwest states' sales pitches next week.

Their targets are the firearms makers in Connecticut, currently unfriendly to firearms ownership, made more so by that state's recent enactment of some of the nation's most draconian gun laws.

That Connecticut Governor Daniel P. Malloy is also said to have made some strident comments regarding firearms, didn't help the state's standing in the eyes of several gun makers located there, either.

Neither did Malloy's pronouncement that it is “disingenuous” to link gun-making with gun-buying as little more than political chutzpah, some Connecticut firearms makers contend.

In jeopardy then is $1.7 billion annually to Connecticut's economy, either directly or indirectly linked to the state's firearms industry.

Among Connecticut's firearms makers that both Texas Gov. Rick Perry and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard plan to visit independently are O.F. Mossberg and Sons and Colt.

Mossberg has an established presence in Connecticut that traces back to 1919 when the firm was founded by Swedish immigrant Oscar Frederick Mossberg.
It remains the country's oldest family owned firearms manufacturer with O.F. Mossberg's grandson, Alan, the firm's chairman of the board, and his great-grandson, Iver, the company's CEO.

Presently, Mossberg's North Haven, Conn. Firearms plant employs 200 people. And it is said the company already employs another 400 people in Texas.

On its website, Mossberg has a link to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, specifically to a link that includes a pre-written email encouraging visitors to send to their elected officials in Washington.

This email addresses the topic of Congresses' proposed expanded background check bill which failed in the U.S. Senate but which may be revisited yet this year.

Mossberg has waded into the arena of firearms law proposals and ancillary issues before, too.

When the Great Britain-based producers of this nation's largest consumer sports show – the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show near Harrisburg, Pa. - this past winter moved to ban the display of AR-platform firearms, Mossberg joined a chorus of dissenters and withdrew from the event.

The show did not go on as a result, either.

And at the time Mossberg was blunt about its decision, saying in a Jan. 23 media release:

“Mossberg’s position on the Second Amendment is unwavering and steadfast; therefore, the company will not support any organization or event that prohibits the display or sale of legal firearms.

“We stand united with our loyal customers and supporters in this constitutional right and had only hoped for a different outcome.”

Similarly Mossberg is unhappy with Malloy. The firm's senior vice-president Joe Bartozzi, is oft-times quoted as saying “It would be incredibly unlikely for us to expand in Connecticut.”

And expansion is on the mind of Mossberg, too, as demand for the firm's various sporting rifles and shotguns soar to the point where additional manufacturing capabilities is a growing necessity, the firm says.

The stakes may even be higher for Malloy and Connecticut should either Perry or Daugarrd succeed in wooing Colt to relocate.

Colt is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious firearms companies, the firm's history dating back 177 years.

At the very least Connecticut would see the loss of 670 well-paying, specialized manufacturing jobs should West Hartford, Conn.-based Colt decide to pack up and move to South Dakota, Texas or some other firearms-friendly state.

Colt as a firearms manufacturer predates the American Civil War, its founder Samuel Colt being awarded a patent for a revolving handgun capable of handling up to six charges in 1836.

Over the next century-plus Colt Firearms developed any number of firearms that have become iconic legends both inside and outside the world of guns.

Such firearms as the Colt .45 Peacemaker revolver and the Colt-built, John M. Browning-designed Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol were game changers in their own right.

Arguably Colt's most famous firearm is the semi-automatic AR-15, a firearm joined at the hip with the M16 rifle, which still exists in various modified forms as the nation's main battle small arms rifle.

Like Mossberg, Colt also has not been shy about expressing its displeasure with what it believes is Connecticut’s currently unfriendly climate for gun makers - and just as importantly for the firm - gun owners.

On Colt's web site is a link to the firm's “Colt in the Media/Colt on the front lines in Connecticut.”

This sub-site of Colt currently hosts links to several videos defending their products and reminding Connecticut's lawmakers of what is at stake job-wise.

Among the videos is one that shows Colt employees descending on Connecticut's capital protesting Malloy's anti-gun legislation.

In a March 18, 2013 opinion column appearing in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant newspaper, Colt's president and CEO Dennis Veilleux additionally said:

“Like every other precision manufacturer in Connecticut, Colt is constantly approached by other states to relocate, but our roots are deep.

“Colt is and always has been an integral part of a state characterized by hard work, perseverance and ingenuity.

“I know, however, that someday soon, I'll again be asked why we should continue to manufacture in a state where the governor would make ownership of our product a felony.

“I will be asked these questions and unlike the past, there will be few good answers.”

Come next week Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota will be among those persons doing the asking and hoping Veilleux's answer will be “After 177 years it's time for a change of scenery and a change of politicians to ones who actually like us and the products we make.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

1 comment:

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