For more than a century, the nation’s firearms industry, including iconic brands like Colt, Smith & Wesson and Winchester, has been concentrated in Northeastern and Midwestern states that now have restrictive gun-control laws.
But recently, states like Idaho, Alabama and Montana have presented a novel argument as part of an effort to lure the firearms industry’s high-paying jobs south and west: Gun makers would be happier and more successful among their own — citizens who regularly use firearms — than they would be remaining in states trying to limit gun rights.
The approach is the latest twist in the interstate competition for scarce jobs, with cash-strapped states supplementing or even bypassing traditional enticements like tax breaks in favor of pitches that sell a lifestyle: greater personal freedom, low or no state taxes, minimal regulation, the absence of troublesome unions, and of course, the unfettered right to bear arms.
“When we approach gun makers, we first make the cultural argument,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, a hunter who personally recruits firearms manufacturers at gun shows. “People in business want to feel their business is wanted and welcome in the communities where they are located. In South Dakota, the culture is there. We don’t regulate firearms businesses out of existence.” Read more
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