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Conn. gunmakers protest governor's statements

| Sunday, April 21, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

HARTFORD — Connecticut's gun manufacturers are accusing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of a hostile work environment and essentially driving them out of the state with comments they view as offensive.

The clash reached a flash point in early April when Malloy, a Democrat, said on CNN: “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible, even if they're deranged, even if they're mentally ill, even if they have a criminal record. They don't care.”

Those comments prompted outrage in the gun industry.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a Newtown-based trade association, wants an apology. And O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a North Haven gunmaker with 270 employees, said the comments were “slanderous” to its employees.

Mossberg, the oldest family-owned gunmaker in the nation, expressed displeasure in a letter from its general counsel, Joseph H. Bartozzi.

“To set the record straight, our company and our employees have gone on record at public hearings and with our elected legislators as stating that the single biggest thing this state can do to stop the criminal misuse of firearms is to prevent access to firearms by prohibited or other at-risk individuals,” Bartozzi wrote.

Malloy stood his ground. “The governor thinks about jobs and economic development 24 hours a day. However, on this particular issue, his focus is first and foremost on public safety,” his spokesman said. “The bill he signed into law will improve public safety and make Connecticut's communities and families safer. We hope the gun industry will join us in that effort.”

Bartozzi suggested that Mossberg could leave the state.

“At a time when we are being encouraged to move our manufacturing facility to any one of several states, your words have made us feel ... decidedly unappreciated.”

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