Utah is actively recruiting firearms manufacturers looking
to relocate because of newly restrictive gun laws and proposals in their home
The Governor's Office of Economic Development is competing against 10 other states trying to lure Colorado-based firearms accessory and magazine manufacturer Magpul Industries Corporation and a handful of other companies, GOED spokesman Michael Sullivan said Tuesday.
"The Governor's Office of Economic Development's Corporate Recruitment team, along with the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, which is our private-sector partner, are reaching out to arms manufacturers considering moving from their current locations," he said.
Utah is an ideal location for firearms companies, Sullivan said.
"We have a large population of people who understand the Second Amendment and the proper handing of firearms," he said.
"We have our Western traditions. We respect that some residents would disagree (with recruiting firearms manufacturers), but overall, our state has been generally supportive of the industry."
So far, no manufacturers have committed to relocating to Utah.
"It's very expensive to pick up a company and move," Sullivan said.
Already at home
Utah has a lengthy history as a home for firearms manufacturers.
Renowned firearms designer John M. Browning was born in Ogden in 1855, and the Browning Arms Company is located in Morgan.
In New Hampshire, a group of conservative Republicans sent letters wooing gun companies. Politicians in Virginia and West Virginia have said they would welcome Beretta if it chose to leave Maryland. Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault, in a letter to the head of Magpul Industries this week, said he read "with shock and disdain" reports of new gun laws in Colorado.
"Though many feel the actions taken by your state government were appropriate," he wrote, "we in Alaska do not."
When the debate over gun laws reignited after the December mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., critics of proposals to toughen state laws cautioned that gun manufacturers could move and take local jobs with them.
And indeed, now lawmakers and residents in a few states are using restrictions on guns recently passed and proposed elsewhere as an opportunity to attract affected businesses.
Whether their campaigns will work remains to be seen, and it may be beside the point.
Jeremy McGowan, of Buckhannon, W.Va., said he started a Facebook page, "Bring Magpul to West Virginia," with "very little hope" of actually attracting the company. He said he wanted at least to draw attention to the issues raised in Colorado and try to prevent something similar from happening in West Virginia.
"I don't think we are a minority at all," he said. "I think a lot of us feel we have been pushed in a corner."
He is joined in the movement by the House Republican Alliance, a group of self-described constitutional conservatives in the New Hampshire Legislature who are pitching the state as a haven for gun companies.
The group recently sent letters to Beretta USA Corp. in Maryland and Colt Manufacturing Co. in Connecticut. Both companies have voiced frustration with proposals in their states that aim to tighten background checks, as well as
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