DENVER — A Colorado firearms company has found a new home across the border in Wyoming, protesting the passage of restrictive gun laws during a week in which the National Rifle Association convention vowed to continue repelling further gun control measures.
HiViz Shooting Systems announced that it will move its core operations from Fort Collins, Colo., to Laramie, Wyo. That is about an hour’s drive, but light-years away in terms of state gun policy.
HiViz becomes the first gun-related manufacturing company to pick up stakes since Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three sweeping gun control laws in March. Other firearms manufacturers, including Magpul Industries, have indicated that they will relocate in response to the legislation.
Colorado Republicans, who opposed the gun control bills, accused Democrats of killing jobs in pursuit of a liberal social agenda. Democrats control both houses of the state legislature and passed the gun control bills with no Republican votes.
Democrats insisted that the measures were needed to improve public safety after two mass shootings in 2012, including the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead. Republicans argued that the bills, which include a limit on ammunition-magazine capacity, will have no effect on safety.
“The Democrats and the governor are outsourcing jobs from Colorado to other states,” said state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Republican. “This was so unnecessary, and the worst part is, these bills don’t do anything to make anyone safer.”
Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead released a statement last week welcoming HiViz, saying the “culture and people make Wyoming a great fit for the company.” HiViz manufactures high-technology shooting accessories and other firearms-related goods, though not firearms themselves.
“I believe this state has so much to offer all citizens and businesses, but moving is never easy. I want to assure HiViz and its customers that we will work diligently to make sure this transition is a smooth one,” said Mr. Mead, a Republican elected in 2011.
At the weekend, the National Rifle Association held its convention in Houston, and its leaders urged its members never to give up their weapons and said they are involved in an epochal struggle over guns.
Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre exulted Saturday in the defeat at the federal level of a bill to expand background checks and the Democrats’ abandonment of tougher measures despite earlier confidence that the politics of gun control had changed.
The “political and media elites” have tried to use recent mass shootings “to blame us, to shame us, to compromise our freedom for their agenda,” Mr. LaPierre said in a fiery speech, adding that the bill “got the defeat that it deserved.”
“We will never surrender our guns, never,” he vowed.
Incoming NRA President James Porter began the convention Friday by warning members that “this is not a battle about gun rights” but rather “a culture war.” The people “here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors,” he said.
On one of the numerous fronts in that war, new Wyoming resident HiViz is not alone in fleeing Colorado.
Magpul Industries, based in Erie, Colo., said in a Facebook post last week that it has begun manufacturing some products outside the state and will announce soon where it plans to relocate.
More than a dozen states are vying to attract the company, which manufactures ammunition magazines and other accessories, employs 200 people and supports another 400 supply-chain jobs.
“More details on where HQ and production will be moving to will be announced as things are finalized,” Magpul said in the post. “PMag production has already started out of the state. Please be patient, there is a lot of due diligence required to move a company of our size.”
HiViz CEO Phil Howe said almost immediately after Mr. Hickenlooper signed the three gun control bills into law that the company could not remain in a state that shows “a willingness to infringe on the constitutional rights of our customer base.”
Iconic brand names Remington, Colt and Beretta also have expressed concerns and interest in relocation over recent gun control bills signed in New York, Connecticut and Maryland, where the companies, respectively, have major manufacturing operations.
Hunting and outdoor-recreation groups also have made noises about boycotting Colorado over its gun laws.
Construction on a HiViz facility in Laramie is expected to begin this summer, according to Thursday’s statement.
“The decision to relocate the company was difficult and choosing the proper location was essential to our continued growth within the industry,” Mr. Howe said in the statement. “The fine people of the Wyoming Business Council and the Laramie Economic Development Corporation worked diligently to accommodate our needs and make us feel welcome.”
Wyoming residents have since posted dozens of messages on HiViz’s Facebook page welcoming the company.
“Dave’s Guns of Laramie is ordering HiViz sights today. We look forward to your arrival,” Dave Smith said in a post.