One Connecticut-based gunmaker announced this week that it is moving to South Carolina while another revealed it is also looking to relocate to the Palmetto State, signaling what some say is the beginning of the end of Connecticut’s firearms manufacturing industry.
PTR Industries of Bristol confirmed on June 19 that it is moving to Aynor, S.C., near Myrtle Beach. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 24 to officially welcome the company, according to the Sun News of Myrtle Beach.
PTR will maintain an investment of $8 million and at least 145 employees, paid an average of $19.39 an hour, by December 2016 to benefit from a lease agreement it signed with Horry County, S.C.
Other firearms companies have expressed interest in moving from, or at least expanding outside of, Connecticut since Gov. Dannel Malloy passed sweeping gun control laws in February in response to the Dec. 14 Newtown school shooting, including Stag Arms CEO Mark Malkowski, who told the Hartford Courant that he will visit South Carolina on June 20.
New Britain-based Stag Arms, Colt Manufacturing Co., and Mossberg & Sons are among the largest producers in Connecticut’s firearms manufacturing industry, which the National Shooting Sports Foundation says generates $1.75 billion in economic activity and 7,340 direct and indirect jobs in the state.
“The last thing companies want to do is move, but the laws are forcing their hand,” NSSF Director of State Affairs Jake McGuigan told the AP in March. “Manufacturers are being courted by Second Amendment- and gun-friendly states. They will have to look at these offers.”
On the same day that PTR announced it was leaving anti-gun Connecticut for South Carolina, a Colorado manufacturer revealed it was headed for Wyoming to escape newly imposed gun restrictions. HiViz Shooting Systems will move from Fort Collins, Colo., to Laramie, Wyo., in 2014.
“After 17 years, we find ourselves at an interesting juncture of having to move and preparing for growth at the same time,” said Philip Howe, president and CEO of HiViz Shooting Systems, which specializes in research, design and engineering of sights and recoil pads for the firearms industry.
HiViz sells 130 products in 30 countries. Within a decade of moving to Laramie in 2014, HiViz plans to create 56 direct and indirect jobs, $21.3 million in payroll from those direct and indirect jobs, provide $858,000 in local tax revenue, $303,000 in state tax revenue, and support 43 households in Laramie.
In early May, HiViz announced that it was going to move to Wyoming from Colorado in response to tightened gun regulations, including a 15-round magazine cap, adopted by Colorado lawmakers. It is the first Colorado gun manufacturer to confirm it is moving to the Cowboy State.
Magpul Industries Corp. announced in February that it would move from Boulder, Colo., to a more gun-friendly state, although has not yet named what state it will move to. Magpul directly employs 200 people in addition to 400 who work for suppliers and contractors. The company says it spends $85 million a year in payments to local suppliers and other companies.
Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas are also aggressively courting gunmakers from anti-gun states.
In early February, Texas Governor Rick Perry sent a letter to 26 gun and ammunition manufacturers inviting them to move their businesses to his state. Last week, a public-private entity, TexasOne, launched a $1 million ad campaign in New York and Connecticut markets, boasting of Texas’ “plentiful” opportunities and “fair” regulations for all businesses, but particularly for gunmakers.
Late last month, Shield Tactical, a firearms accessory manufacturer and training company, said it would move from California to Shiner, Texas. The company said it would leave its training division in California “until the legislature outlaws everything.”
Beretta USA, the Italian gun maker’s American subsidiary, is threatening to move its operations from Maryland, where it is projected to pay about $31 million in taxes from 1997 to 2014, after that state’s Legislature adopted a semi-automatic weapons ban that makes several of its products illegal.
Among those newly illegal products: The 600,000 M9s that Baretta’s Maryland plant manufactures for the Defense Department as the U.S. military’s standard-issue sidearm.
“We are confronted with a state government that wants to ban our products at a time, by the way, when numerous other state governments are courting our investment,” Jeff Reh, a member of Beretta’s Board of Directors, said in a testimony to the state legislature.
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— Pushed By Guns Law, PTR Industries Will Relocate To South Carolina