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States set sights on Colorado firearms business; gun-control bills scorned
DENVER — In one sign of the price states may pay for restricting gun rights, more than a dozen states are jostling to land a Colorado firearms company that has vowed to leave the state if the governor signs into law tough gun-control legislation.
Elected officials from Alabama, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia have written letters to Magpul Industries inviting the company to make their states its relocation destination. Meanwhile, individuals from at least 10 states have launched social media campaigns on Facebook to lure the Erie, Colo.-based company.
"We are a state whose people are committed to Second Amendment rights. You can be assured that the Alabama Legislature would never seriously consider any legislation that would jeopardize your company and your workers," Alabama Agriculture Secretary John McMillan said in a letter dated Tuesday.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican, emphasized in a letter Tuesday that, "In South Carolina, we believe in the right to keep and bear arms.
"At a time when our government is consistently thwarting the ability of individuals to own businesses, voluntarily trade goods and services, and grow our economy, South Carolina is committed to writing a different story," Mr. Duncan said.
The entreaties come just a few days after Richard Fitzpatrick, founder and president of the 10-year-old company, announced that Magpul would relocate if a Colorado bill banning ammunition clips holding more than 15 rounds, or what he called "standard-capacity magazines," becomes law.
"Our company could not, in good conscience, continue to manufacture our products in a state where law-abiding citizens are prohibited from purchasing and owning them," Mr. Fitzpatrick said in a statement. "The passage of this bill will do nothing to enhance public safety, but will force us to immediately begin taking our business to another state."
Another Colorado company, Alfred Manufacturing Co. Inc., is likely to follow suit. Chief Executive Greg Alfred said in a letter this week to the General Assembly that the firm, which makes plastic magazine-ammunition cases and other gun accessories, will move all or part of its operation if the bill is signed, insisting that "we will plain and simply have no choice."
Fighting back is Rep. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, who was scheduled to tour Magpul on Thursday and invited the governor to join him. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has not said whether he would sign the magazine-limit bill, although he has expressed general support for the concept.
"Magpul is threatening to leave our state, taking hundreds of jobs with it, as the direct result of gun-control legislation that is not even going to make us any safer," Mr. Gardner said in a Feb. 20 letter to the governor.
The Colorado House approved Monday four sweeping gun-control bills with no Republican votes. The Senate is now considering the legislation. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.
Even before the Colorado bills passed, Texas officials were actively wooing Magpul. In a letter dated Feb. 7, Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the company to take a look at Texas, highlighting its financial incentives for businesses and its status as a right-to-work state.
"As you consider your options for responding to unwarranted government intrusion into your business, you may choose to consider relocating your manufacturing to a state that is more business-friendly," Mr. Perry said. "There is no other state that fits the definition of 'business-friendly' like Texas."
Magpul's plight also was exploding on Facebook, with page names such as "Bring Magpul to Tennessee" and "Magpul and Texas. A perfect match."
"[H]ere in West Virginia, we pride ourselves on being very pro-Constitution and pro-Second Amendment," state Delegate Joshua Nelson said in a Feb. 11 letter posted on the "Bring Magpul to West Virginia" page, which has nearly 1,200 "likes."
It's easy to see why Magpul is such a catch. The company, which sells firearms accessories to the military, law enforcement and sporting-goods stores, employs 200 people and supports another 400 supply-chain jobs, contributing an estimated $85 million each year to the state's economy, according to company figures.
Colorado House Democrats tried to find common ground by amending the bill to exempt manufacturers from the 15-round restriction, but Magpul Chief Operating Officer Doug Smith said the company still would face a customer backlash.
"We could choose to stay in a state that wants our jobs and revenue, but not our products, and lose half the jobs we are fighting to save, or potentially the entire business, when our customers stop buying," Mr. Smith said.
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About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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