Gun manufacturers are leaving the Northeast in droves, seeking out new production homes in the comparatively low-tax, Second Amendment-friendly South — and at a time when firearms sales have skyrocketed, industry data showed.
“Everybody who is looking to expand in new factory space is looking outside the Northeast,” said Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst with CRT Capital Group, in Reuters “The reasons are taxes, labor and laws.”
One of the latest is PTR Industries Inc., a firearms maker that was based in Connecticut but left for South Carolina in the wake of hefty regulations that legislators enacted after the Newtown school shootings.
This week, company executives presented a commemorative rifle to the governor of South Carolina during a brief ceremony to mark their new partnership, which includes an $8 million initial PTR investment and the creation of 45 new jobs, Reuters reported.
The rifle that PTR presented was stamped with the state’s logo and the accompanying text: “We the people shall not be infringed,” Reuters reported.
PTR isn’t the only gun manufacturer to pick up shop and leave the Northeast.
Remington Outdoor Co Inc moved some of its production lines from New York — where it had maintained business since 1816 — to Alabama, Reuters reported. Sturm Ruger & Co Inc is constructing a 220,000-square-foot building in North Carolina. And Colt’s Manufacturing Co, which is also headquartered in Connecticut, moved shop to Texas at the tail end of 2013.
Meanwhile, Beretta USA decided to abandon its long-time base in Maryland and move operations to Tennessee — a decision that was made shortly after Maryland lawmakers banned assault weapons’ sales.
Beretta, in particular, was pursued by several states that wanted the business, but company officials ultimately made their decision based on Second Amendment considerations.
The company pared a list of “traditional true blood Second Amendment states” and chose from there, said Beretta general counsel and vice-general manager Jeff Reh, in an earlier interview with The Sportsman Channel.
That’s not an uncommon consideration for gun makers, said Ruttenbur, in the Reuters report.
“The demand for guns is not in the Northeast,” he said. “It’s not on the coasts. Gun ownership is dramatically going higher in the heartland.”
Meanwhile, PTR’s vice president John McNamara put it this way: Firearms makers are facing an “awakening,” he said, Reuters reported. “When folks in the Northeast are approached by states like South Carolina, Texas and Georgia and shown what they can be doing, there’s no competition. Connecticut banned the product we make.”
Gun manufacturers report that sales have been on a steady increase for the past three decades.