Perry to get warm reception from gun manufacturers

Hartford Courant:

Connecticut gun manufacturers will welcome not one red-state governor early next week, but two — as Texas Gov. Rick Perry's tour Monday is followed by a visit from South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaardlater Monday and Tuesday.

Both Republican governors will tour the Colt companies in West Hartford and O.F. Mossberg & Sons inNorth Haven, and perhaps other firearms makers. While Perry announced his foray to Connecticut and New York with fanfare and an ad campaign, Daugaard planned his trip quietly.

Perry, keeping with his higher-key tone, will host a lunchtime reception for Connecticut firearms firms at the Max Downtown restaurant in Hartford, in addition to touring several plants in a whirlwind day.

Both governors hail from states that offer low taxes and a business climate that's more than friendly to the makers of military-style guns of the sort that Connecticut banned for sale on April 4.

For Mossberg, the visits coincide with an active search for a place to expand. The 94-year-old Connecticut gunmaker has 270 employees at its home plant and 400 in Texas, and is looking for more capacity as sales climb.

"It's nice to see someone come and say, 'We like your jobs, we welcome your business,'" said Joe Bartozzi, senior vice president and general counsel at Mossberg. "It's nice to be liked. It's nice to be wanted."

Bartozzi said that Mossberg has not met with other governors this year, but he noted: "We've met with senators, we've met with congressmen. I have a stack of letters that would choke a horse from economic development agencies around the country, and, obviously like any business we're looking at options."

As for Connecticut, Bartozzi said, the law is bad enough but the attitude of elected officials such as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is worse.

"It would be incredibly unlikely for us to expand in Connecticut," he said.

Each of the four Connecticut companies that make military-style, semiautomatic rifles in the state has a different stance when it comes to expanding or moving.

PTR Industries in Bristol, which has about 45 employees and makes a version of the German HK rifle, has said that it is exiting the state entirely. PTR hosted a South Carolina official last month after visiting his Myrtle Beach district. My colleague Tony Terzi of FOX CT reported that PTR employees, in an informal vote, favored South Carolina over other states.

Stag Arms of New Britain, an AR-15 rifle-maker with 200 employees, is considering a move or an expansion, perhaps along with Ammunition Storage Components, a New Britain maker of bullet magazines, many now banned in its home state. Stag owner Mark Malkowski, whose photo with Perry at the NRA convention in Houston raised eyebrows last month, is again meeting with his new friend Monday morning, and with Daugaard later in the day.

The Colt companies — Colt's Manufacturing Co. and Colt Defense, with 700 local employees under one roof between them — aren't saying what they might do.

"Texas has always been a loyal supporter and friend of Colt and we will be pleased to welcome Gov. Perry to our facility on Monday morning," Dennis Veilleux, CEO of Colt's Manufacturing, said in a written statement. "While we have been proud to call Connecticut home for 175 years, as we look to future growth we have a responsibility to consider all options that ensure we remain competitive and meet the needs and expectations of our customers."

The companies have a backlog of orders, and Colt Defense has added employees this year in West Hartford, said Jim Tipton, human resources vice president at Colt's Manufacturing.
Perry will be given a Colt 1911 especially engraved with the State of Texas outline.  The pistol was developed to deal with the insurrection in the Philippines by Muslim radicals.  It has great stopping power  making it ideal to crazed assaults.

It sounds like PTR is close to a decision on going to South Carolina.  I think the other three are in play and would find Texas an ideal location with great transportation hubs and a central location in the heart of their customer base.  I can understand why they would want to leave a hostile environment before it gets worse for their business model.


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