February 24, 2013

States that embrace firearms invite gun manufacturers to move to them

Officials from Mississippi and elsewhere encourage companies to relocate from restrictive places.

By JEFF AMY / The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. – One top state official wants gun makers in seven states, including three in New England, to flee critics and move to Mississippi.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, sent letters Thursday to 14 gun manufacturers suggesting they should relocate. The companies are in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and North Carolina.

"I am personally inviting you and your company to come to the great state of Mississippi," Gunn wrote in a letter to Colt's Manufacturing Co. "In our state, you will not be criticized for providing good to the law-abiding citizens who enjoy hunting, shooting or who just want the peace of mind that comes with the constitutional right to protect their families."

Leaders from other states have sent letters to some or all of the companies asking them to come to their homes. Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, both Texas Republicans, have made overtures. Also chiming in have been U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and officials from Alabama, Idaho, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Many of those have made overtures to Colorado-based Magpul Industries. Magpul has threatened to leave Colorado if the state enacts a ban on high-capacity magazines.

But Gunn's list also included the American unit of SIG Sauer in New Hampshire and North Carolina's Remington Arms Co. Both those states have little apparent movement toward tighter restrictions on guns and ammunition.

States where there's little movement to restrict firearms have tried to use their pro-gun cultures to lure gun makers away from their traditional production bases in the Northeast and Midwest.

Mississippi has five makers of firearms and ammunition, according to Mississippi Development Authority records. The most prominent of those is Olin Corp.'s Winchester unit in Oxford.

The state lured Olin to Oxford from East Alton, Ill., after the company couldn't reach a wage-reduction deal with its union in Illinois and Mississippi put up $25 million in incentives.

Also in Mississippi, Precision Delta Corp. makes ammunition in Ruleville, MAC makes polymer bullet casings in Bay St. Louis, Nammo Talley assembles shoulder-launched rockets in Columbus and BAE Systems completes howitzers in Hattiesburg.

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