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MILLER: Obama promotes jobs in Texas, where gun companies are looking to escape gun control

Sturm Ruger and Beretta look to recamp to gun-friendly Lone Star State

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2013

President Obama will travel to Austin Thursday to promote job creation, while profitable corporations are moving to Texas to escape his bad economic policies. Huge companies in the booming firearms industry are considering moving to the Lone Star State, where Gov. Rick Perry promises a welcoming business environment. 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Mr. Obama’s trip to the Texas capital will highlight the need “to ensure that good jobs for the middle class are available here in this country --  and that includes the kinds of improvements we’ve seen in manufacturing and in industries in manufacturing that represent the future of the economy here and around the world.” That is all happening in spite of Mr. Obama’s agenda. 

The CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. announced last week that the gun manufacturer will create 500 to 700 new jobs -- but not anywhere near its headquarters in Connecticut. Michael Fifer told shareholders that he is looking for a 250,000-square-foot building, hopefully in Texas.

Mr. Fifer told his investors that he asked Mr. Perry to find a space for his third plant, adding that, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it.” Existing plants in New Hampshire and Arizona will remain operational. Connecticut Gov. Gov. Dannel Malloy rushed through drastic gun-control legislation in April. 

Ruger wants to increase production because its guns have been selling like hotcakes. Earnings increased 53 percent in the first quarter, compared to 2012, driven by the 39 percent increase in sales. This mirrors the entire firearm industry, which has been unable to keep up with demand since Mr. Obama made gun bans and restrictions a top priorities of his second term. 

Maryland-based Beretta has also seen an explosion in sales, along with an antagonistic state executive. The firearms company may move out of state if Gov. Martin O’Malley signs the radical gun control bill passed by the legislate. “In Maryland, we have a governor who said he doesn't like our products,” Jeffrey Reh, Beretta’s general counsel, told me in an interview.  

Mr. Reh explained what the company was using to evaluate options in other states should Mr. O’Malley approve the bill on the next “signing day” on May 16. The number one consideration is whether the state has been “consistent in supporting and promoting Second Amendment rights.”  

He cited North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas as most attractive for that reason. “Gov. Perry reached out to us, and we view his position on the right of an individual to bear arms in self defense as a positive sign of encouragement,” he said. 

Beretta, which is the world’s oldest family-owned business, is also factoring in economic issues for a move. The Beretta Group -- which includes Benelli U.S.A. and Stoeger Industries  --  paid the State of Maryland $31 million in taxes and has or plans to invest $73 million in equipment, buildings and infrastructure from 1997 to 2014.

The company’s 400 employees make hundreds of millions of firearms from its Accokeek factory, including the M9, which is the standard sidearm for all military branches. A move would require enough skilled workers to run the factory as well as administration, marketing, research and development. The company is looking for tax breaks for investment and employee training programs. The climate matters because of energy costs of running such a large manufacturing plant. 

“It’s no small thing to move a factory,” Mr. Reh explained. “We put hundreds of millions of dollars into building it, and you can’t just pick up and move in a day. We also have military contracts with tight deadlines, and we won’t do anything to delay delivery to our troops.”

Mr. Obama should save the taxpayer’s money on this jaunt and go to a state where his big-government policies are being enacted. Corporate America already knows it will find capitalism at work in Texas. As Mr. Perry told me when I interviewed him at the NRA meeting in Houston Friday: “I truly believe people want to be where they are desired and appreciated.” 

 

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