I have been watching carefully as more Southern states engage in courtships with the various gun manufacturers over location. There are too many articles to link and discuss. But this report does a good job of summarizing what’s at stake.
Every year, New York state gives out millions in tax incentives, loans and economic development grants to the private sector. Every state does it, and New York has little choice if it wants to prevent companies from leaving, but additional attention is now being paid to the incentives going to the state’s gun industry.
In a letter sent Jan. 3 to Empire State Development President Kenneth Adams, State Senator Liz Krueger urged an end to incentives for the firearms industry.
“I’m still awaiting a formal letter of response, but I have been assured that this was a grant made in a previous administration, not in Governor Cuomo’s administration, and the moneys that were committed have been spent,” says Krueger.
She is referring to $5.5 million that went to Remington Arms in the last five years. The incentives to Remington in New York are among $19.9 million given by nine states to makers of assault weapons in the last decade and were revealed in a list compiled by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.
The $5.5 million that went to Remington and its parent company, Freedom Group, led to the consolidation of manufacturing plants in Massachusetts and Connecticut to Ilion, N.Y., where Remington has manufactured firearms for nearly 200 years.
“They were down to close to 600 jobs and now they’ve more than doubled that,” says Sen. Jim Seward, Ilion’s representative in the legislature. “These are good manufacturing jobs and obviously we want them to stay.”
Seward says as many as 40 of the guns manufactured in Ilion can no longer be sold to civilians in New York.
The state’s new gun control law, known as the SAFE Act, bans semiautomatic weapons with certain design features deemed military-style, like detachable magazines or folding stocks.
The company can still manufacture the banned guns in New York for export, but Seward says cutting off Remington from future incentives would make it even harder to keep the operation in Ilion.
“I must point out that they are being constantly recruited by other states,” says Seward. “And at some point, we hope this day does not come, but at some point, the company could say, ‘hey, well why should we remain in a state that is perceived by many as being hostile to law-abiding gun ownership?’”
Politicians in Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma and South Carolina are reportedly all trying to convince Remington to relocate.
Another manufacturer called Kimber, which makes guns that are not classified as assault weapons, received $700,000 from Empire State Development in 2009.
The move South makes sense for the gun manufacturers. First of all, living in the upstate South Carolina area means that you’re always within one hour of some of the most beautiful mountains East of the Mississippi, and within three hours of some of’ the best beachfront on the East coast. Second, the gun manufacturers can always rely on workers who wouldn’t be caught dead paying money to a labor union. Third, they would be located in a state that wanted them, had laws that were amenable to their needs, and rewarded them handsomely for their industry. Continued time spent in the Northeast is time wasted.
I think this is true of Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms in Illinois too. Their time is limited in the North, and the move is inevitable. As for the states from which the manufacturers relocate, I think the figure of speech is called “chickens coming home to roost.” If New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and other Northern states decide that the jobs are too important to lose, then we have the delicious irony that these states care enough about their own citizens to protect them from these “evil” guns, but not the citizens of other states. Making money is more important than the lives of other people.
How rich is that?