Five states courting Remington Arms away from New York

Jan 30, 2013

Five states have contacted the parent company of Remington Arms to encourage the gun maker to relocate in response to New York's efforts to tighten gun control laws.

The flurry of courtships comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed "the toughest gun control laws in the nation" on Jan. 15.

Lawmakers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona and South Carolina have all sent letters to Remington's owner, Freedom Group, in the last two weeks. Texas sent a letter to the company back in November. It's common practice for the governor's office to send such letters to companies from time to time, according to a spokeswoman.

The letters cite each state's business-friendly environment and support of the Second Amendment, but do not mention specific economic incentives for moving. The letters encourage the company to contact the state's economic development offices.

"Horrific news"

The Remington Arms plant has been located in the Mohawk Valley town of Ilion, just east of Utica, for almost 200 years. The town of 8,000 people was built around the company and New York's new gun control measures have many there worried about the future of the factory.

Remington makes several types of rifles, including the Bushmaster semi-automatic line, which was used in the Newtown, Conn. shooting and is now banned for sale in New York.

Word that so many states are trying to get Remington to move is "horrific news," says Frank "Rusty" Brown, the political coordinator for the United Mine Workers of America Local 717, the union that represents the Remington employees.

"This is actually the worst situation we’ve been in as far as other states wanting to lure us away," he says.

"A different story"

There was concern about Remington relocating when New York lawmakers began discussing micro-stamping for weapons and ammunition (something Texas cited in its letter), but that measure has not been enacted.

In his letter to Freedom Group CEO George Kollitides, Republican South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan said:

The enemies of freedom are waging an all-out assault on the Second Amendment to the Constitution which we have sworn to protect and defend. At a time when our government is consistently thwarting the ability of individuals to own businesses, voluntarily trade goods and services, and grow our economy, South Carolina is committed to writing a different story. In South Carolina, we believe in the right to keep and bear arms.

New York Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican who represents Ilion, responded in an article in USA Today, saying "The Ilion plant remains highly competitive, and its workers and the community are committed to the success of Remington. I look forward to working with New York state leaders to see that Remington stays here for generations to come and thrives right where it began almost 200 years ago."

Remington Arms has not responded to several phone calls and emails requesting comment, but did tell the Utica Observer-Dispatch last week the company is "carefully evaluating its options."

"Devastating impact"

Since 2009, New York has given Remington Arms nearly $5.4 million to expand and consolidate operations from other states in Ilion through the Empire State Development Corporation.

Members of the union at Remington signed a new five year contract with the company in December, according to Brown. The union sent its own letter to Governor Cuomo's office yesterday expressing their concern about the courtships.

The letter says "the economic impact would be devastating to the Mohawk Valley" if Remington left.