A few days ago, Fort Collins, Colorado-based HiViz Shooting Systems announced that it was relocating to Laramie, Wyoming. This is actually one of the first relocations announced in what is likely to be a major gun manufacturing industry realignment, but still provides a pretty clear picture of what’s going to happen.
Colorado is one of the few states that has passed new gun control legislation after the Newtown shootings, along with Maryland and Connecticut itself.
HiViz CEO Phil Howe said the company selected Laramie because of Wyoming’s strong support for gun manufacturers and Laramie’s close proximity to their current facility in Fort Collins, which is just across the state line in Colorado.
Howe added that the fine people at the Laramie Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and the Wyoming Business Council had worked hard to accommodate their needs and made them feel welcome.
In Maryland, Beretta USA is a major employer with 400 employees and a factory in Accokeek. The company warned state legislators they would relocate if proposed gun control legislation was approved.
Beretta is now being actively wooed by many economic development agencies and state officials. Maine Gov. Paul LePage even wrote an op-ed exhorting Beretta to “Come to Maine.” But it’s Virginia that has the best chance to secure the Beretta relocation because of its proximity to their existing plant and favorable policies for gun makers, same as the CO to WY relocation of HiViz.
In fact, Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta, specifically mentioned Virginia when he warned MD lawmakers that the last time Maryland had passed tougher gun control laws, the company had moved its warehouse to Fredericksburg, VA, which is again only an hour away from Beretta’s plant in Accokeek, MD.
Texas has scored a couple of gun company relocations including California-based Shield Tactical and Oregon-based Colt Competition, a licensee of Colt which makes competition shooting rifles. But these relocations are more about Texas’ general ability to draw companies from other states, rather than a strategic move by a gun-maker due to adverse legislation.
The main relocation battle, so to speak, is raging in Connecticut where gun makers have a combined impact of $1.3 billion on the state economy and are being heavily courted by many states.
Bristol, CT-based PTR Industries has announced its intention to relocate outside the state, while Southport, CT-based Sturm Ruger has indicated that it will not be relocating.
Michael Fifer, president and CEO of Sturm Ruger, told stockholders the company had a good setup in the state and there was no reason to disrupt it. He even announced an expansion of their facilities to add 18 new jobs.
The Hartford, CT-based Colt Manufacturing Company has not issued any public statements or comments recently about relocating, although they did threaten to do so during a gun control legislation hearing last year before Newtown.
North Haven, CT-based Mossberg & Sons has likewise not made any public statements recently about moving out.
One of the possible reasons that the relocation buzz for gun-makers in Connecticut has been so muted so far is that unlike HiViz and Beretta, they have no easy option a short stroll away that will allow their business and supplier network to continue undisrupted.