DENVER | No sooner had Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three gun-control bills into law Wednesday than the economic backlash began.
Officials at gun equipment manufacturer Magpul Industries confirmed that the company would make good on its vow to leave Colorado if the governor signed the bill to limit ammunition-magazine capacity. The Erie-based manufacturer confirmed on its Facebook page that it will start its transition “almost immediately.”
“We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected,” said the company in a statement, adding that it expects to begin manufacturing its PMAG-brand magazines within 30 days of the bill-signing.
Magpul may be the first firearms-related business to relocate as a result of state gun-control laws, but it probably won’t be the last. Companies in Connecticut, Maryland and New York are considering moves to more gun-friendly pastures as their state legislatures act on restrictive firearms measures similar to those pushed through by state Democrats here.
Founded in 1999, Magpul stands as a relative newcomer to the firearms business, but even companies with hundreds of years of history in their states may look to relocate as a result of political shifts.
In New York, where Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed laws banning so-called assault weapons and limiting magazine capacity to seven rounds, venerable gun manufacturer Remington Arms is being wooed by officials in at least a half-dozen other states.
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“We are carefully evaluating our options,” Teddy Novin, marketing director for Remington parent company Freedom Group, Inc., told the Utica Observer-Dispatch in January.
Remington, which has operated for nearly 200 years in Ilion, N.Y., employs 1,300 people and brings an estimated $50 million to the state annually.
Another gun company that may be receptive to relocation is Colt’s Manufacturing Co. in Hartford, Conn. The state legislature in Hartford is debating firearms restrictions in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December, which left 26 people dead, including 20 children.
Colt President Dennis Veilleux said in a March 18 editorial in the Hartford Courant that he feared the legislation would erode the 175-year-old company’s customer base and cripple its ability to do business in Connecticut. Last week, Colt drove home the point by sending 10 buses with more than 500 employees to the state legislature. The workers held a rally outside the state capitol, waving signs and chanting “Save our jobs!”
And in Maryland, officials at Beretta USA, the American base for the famed Italian gunmaker, have expressed concerns that bills moving quickly through the state legislature would make some of the company’s products illegal in its home state. Beretta employs as many as 400 workers, making the company an attractive target for nearby states, including Virginia and West Virginia.
Magpul, which manufactures polymer firearms accessories, including ammunition magazines, employs about 200 people and supports 400 supply-chain jobs in Colorado. The company blamed political currents outside Colorado for the Democratic legislature’s gun-control package.
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“It is disappointing to us that money and a social agenda from outside the state have apparently penetrated the American West to control our legislature and governor, but we feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives and the 2014 election,” said the company.
Mr. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, acknowledged at the signing ceremony that Magpul might leave Colorado, but said he had concluded that the legislation’s benefits “clearly” outweighed the costs.
“Those are 200 people who go to work every day, and if Magpul decides they do indeed have to leave, that’s a hardship, that’s difficult,” said Mr. Hickenlooper. “In any difficult piece of legislation, there’s pluses and minuses.”