Thursday, April 24, 2014
By STEPHEN SINGER/The Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. - The governor of Texas visited Connecticut on Monday to court gun manufacturers that have threatened to leave since the state passed tough new gun-control laws this year in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
While gun makers may be unlikely to leave behind their factories and skilled work forces, executives say Texas is an appealing location -- and some said the out-of-state attention marked a stark contrast with a Connecticut governor they say has shown little regard for a local industry that dates to the Revolutionary War.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry shot at a firing range at Connecticut's venerable Colt Manufacturing Co., one of the plants he toured, and met privately with company owners and other businesses at a downtown Hartford restaurant. At a brief news conference afterward, the Republican offered a conservative policy blueprint in a state run by Democrats.
"Are your tax policies really in the best interest of your job creators?" he asked. "Is your regulatory climate one (that) really allows your citizens to be able to enjoy the freedoms that they can have or they should have or that they think they should have or are they going to relocate somewhere?"
Connecticut's Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, signed new gun restrictions into law in April, four months after 20 children and six educators were murdered by a lone gunman at a Newtown school.
Joe Bartozzi, senior vice president and general counsel at O.F. Mossberg & Sons, welcomed Perry's planned visit to the North Haven gun maker, which employs 270 workers in Connecticut and 400 in Texas. He contrasted Perry's interest in the business and the jobs it provides with what he called "less than flattering remarks" in recent months by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Malloy about the gun industry.
Asked about the possibility of expanding in Texas, Bartozzi said, "That would make more sense. That would be more logical for us."
Colt President and CEO Dennis Veilleux issued a statement saying Perry assured the company it would "always be welcome in Texas."
Mark T. Malkowski, president of Stag Arms in New Britain, said he's been in touch with Perry's office and met with the governor in Houston last month. "There was nothing as much as a phone (call) from our governor asking us to stay," he said.
Malkowski was expecting a visit from South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Monday.