Share This Page

Gun-friendly states woo firearms manufacturers

| Friday, March 29, 2013, 6:57 p.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — Firearms manufacturers upset over newly restrictive gun laws and proposals in their home states are getting a message from other places: Move here, where the climate is favorable to your products and so are the tax codes.

In New Hampshire, a group of conservative Republicans sent letters wooing gun companies. Politicians in Virginia and West Virginia have said they would welcome Beretta if it chose to leave Maryland. Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault, in a letter to the head of Magpul Industries this week, said he read “with shock and disdain” reports of new gun laws in Colorado, the home of the firearms accessory and magazine manufacturer. “Though many feel the actions taken by your state government were appropriate,” he wrote, “we in Alaska do not.”

When the debate over gun laws reignited after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December, critics of proposals to toughen state laws cautioned that gun manufacturers could move and take local jobs with them. And indeed, lawmakers and residents in a few states are using restrictions on guns recently passed and proposed elsewhere as an opportunity to attract affected businesses.

Whether their campaigns would work remains to be seen, and it may be beside the point.

Jeremy McGowan, of Buckhannon, W.Va., said he started a Facebook page, “Bring Magpul to West Virginia,” with “very little hope” of actually attracting the company. He said he wanted at least to draw attention to the issues raised in Colorado and try to prevent something similar from happening in West Virginia.

“I don't think we are a minority at all,” he said. “I think a lot of us feel we have been pushed in a corner.”

He's joined in the movement by a group of self-described constitutional conservatives in the New Hampshire legislature, the House Republican Alliance, who are pitching the state as a haven for gun companies.

The group recently sent letters to Beretta USA Corp. in Maryland and Colt Manufacturing Co. in Connecticut. Both companies have voiced frustration with proposals in their states that aim to tighten background checks as well as ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

But the group has done little beyond write letters, leaving open the question of whether its pleas will bring any new business to the state. The group has not enlisted the help of the state agency that would traditionally handle outreach to companies elsewhere. Rep. Al Baldasaro, a Londonderry Republican, said that's because group members view it as an extension of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, whom they also have not reached out to. And neither gun maker has written them back.

Baldasaro rejected the notion that courting gun companies could be seen as a cynical attempt to capitalize on the gun debate.

“This is about bringing jobs to New Hampshire,” he said on Friday. “It has nothing to do with what happened in Connecticut or anywhere else.”

His group noted that New Hampshire is home to 80 firearm component manufacturers — including Sig Sauer Inc.; Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc.; and Heckler & Koch USA — and its letters cited laws preventing restrictions on firearms manufacturing.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.