Colt's Manufacturing, the legendary gun maker that has made the iconic "Peacemaker" for more than a century, could pull up its stakes in Connecticut and find another home after coming under fire in the national debate over the Second Amendment.
Colt's President and CEO Dennis Veilleux said the pro gun-control climate that has taken hold of the state in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre and other firearm attacks has left him feeling unwelcome in the state his company has called home for 175 years.
Proposed laws being debated by the Connecticut Legislature and pushed by Gov. Dannel Malloy include a new gun offender registry, an expanded assault weapons ban, ammunition restrictions and a ban on bulk purchases of handguns.
Veilleux said those measures have put Colt and its nearly 700 employees in the crosshairs.
“At some point, if you can’t sell your products … then you can’t run your business," Dennis Veilleux, CEO of Colt's Manufacturing told Fox News. "You need customers to buy your products to stay in business.”
Veilleux, who wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Hartford Courant this week in which he raised the prospect of leaving the state, said the company doesn’t have any such “definite plans.”
But if Malloy follows through on his promise to ban the purchase and sale of AR-15 rifles, the centerpiece of the company’s business, he said leaving could become an option.
The 47 year old CEO of Colt's Manufacturing, Veilleux, said Colt is “constantly approached” by other states to relocate.
Several business friendlier red state governors have made no secret of the fact they covet firearms makers, Colt and Beretta and others. It is an industry that contributes $1.7 billion annually to Connecticut's economy.
The gun company's CEO acknowledged that even raising the possibility of a move could be troubling to workers whose roots in Connecticut are in many cases as deep as Colt's.
“The employees are what the company is,” he said. “It’s not a building with a bunch of machines in it. The company is the employees. They’re proud of what they do, they represent their community – and I would say a lot more than some of the legislators do. They’re real people.”
Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba says the Democratic governor does not want Colt and its 670 employees to leave the state.
“The governor has been clear for some time that while he does not want manufacturers to leave the state, we need to move ahead with common sense gun violence prevention legislation that will improve public safety,” Andrew Doba wrote Fox News in an email.
Dennis Veilleux made headlines last week when he closed down his factory and bused 400 workers to the state Capitol so they could personally urge lawmakers not to pass gun control legislation that they say could risk their livelihoods.
Connecticut's unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in December.
In Hartford County, where Colt is based and provides what Veilleux considers high-paying jobs, that figure was 8.1 percent. Both jobless rates are well above the national average.
Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. Gunman Adam Lanza also killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, before committing suicide as police responded to the school.
That shooting, as well as last year's movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, have triggered an outcry by liberals across America to ban so-called "assault rifles," restrict the sale of other guns, ban ammunition and reloading supplies, ban certain magazines, start a National Gun Registration and Gun Owner Registry, force Americans to register all guns in their possession, install a system for National Background Checks even if it means making public what is at present private medical records.
And just last month, it was in the news that ...
Beretta considering leaving Maryland as Gov O'Malley pushes for tougher gun laws
One of the world’s biggest gun makers is threatening to move its Maryland manufacturing plant – along with roughly 400 jobs – as Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley pushes one of the most ambitious gun-control agendas in the country.
Beretta, the nearly 500-year-old Italian company, arrived in southern Maryland in 1997.
A government contract in 1985 made Beretta the standard sidearm supplier for the U.S. military, helping the international company, and its small U.S. division, supply more than 500,000 guns to the Armed Forces.
But now Beretta USA executives have grown weary of the state’s attitude on guns and reportedly have backed up their threat by pointing out the company moved a warehouse to neighboring Virginia in 1990 when Maryland previously tightened gun laws.
Republicans, who largely oppose the new legislation, are warning about the economic impact of Beretta's threats.
“We are pushing a legitimate manufacturer and good neighbor out of Maryland,” Republican state Delegate Anthony J. O’Donnell told FoxNews.com on Wednesday.
“Losing them would be a big disappointment. Maryland has a reputation for having a horrible business climate, and this would be one more nail in the coffin,” continued O’Donnell, the state House minority leader.
The O’Malley-backed legislation – which includes bans on possessing assault rifles and high-capacity gun magazines – would unlikely impact Beretta’s manufacturing.
However, possession of its 9mm pistol, with its 13-bullet magazine, would be illegal under legislation now moving through the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.
Beretta’s civilian version of a Special Ops weapon now in production, and anticipated to be a big seller, also is expected to have the same fate. All that has company executives questioning why they should expand in a state where residents cannot buy some of Beretta’s best products, though relocation would be costly.
Company board member Jeff Reh recently testified against the Maryland legislation, saying he understands the need to reduce gun violence, but the pending measure is not the answer.
He also told lawmakers that Beretta and two related companies over roughly the past 17 years have paid or are projected to pay $31 million in state taxes. And the group has invested or plans to invest an estimated $73 million over the same period.
“We are confronted with a state government that wants to ban our products at a time, by the way, when numerous other state governments are courting our investment,” Reh added.
O’Malley aides told The Washington Post the pending legislation doesn’t include a ban on the manufacturing of assault weapons, in part because of Beretta.
And O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory told the newspaper: “We think getting assault weapons off the streets and keeping this company can both be accomplished.”
O’Donnell acknowledged the recent mass shooting in Connecticut and similar ones should be prompting lawmakers to look at ways to curb gun violence. “But most of the proposals do little to stop a tragedy like the one in Connecticut,” he said.
As for moving out of business unfriendly states, at least one other company in the United States is making such a move.
The Colorado company Magpul, which makes high-capacity magazines and add-ons for semi-automatic rifles, took out a newspaper ad stating it would leave should the state pass a ban on such magazines and guns.
On Wednesday, a Colorado ammunition magazine manufacturer went a step further than Veilleux, saying that it will leave the state after lawmakers approved new gun laws there.
Magpul Chief Operating Officer Doug Smith said the moving process has begun following the signing of a bill by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper that bans the sale of gun magazines with more than 15 rounds. A new location has yet to be determined.
“Our moving efforts are under way,” Smith told the Denver Post. “Within the next 30 days we will manufacture our first magazine outside the state of Colorado.”
Magpul, which employs roughly 200 workers, is based in Erie, about 30 miles north of Denver. It’s the largest Colorado company that potentially would be affected by the bill, one of three state gun measures passed this year.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, Republicans, have invited gun makers to relocate to their state, promising no unwarranted government intrusion into the businesses.
There are many states that would enjoy the billions of dollars that both Colt and Beretta bring to their respective states, so let's see where Colt and Beretta end up.
It seems to me that any place they land will be better than where they are at. It seems the Northeast blue states have enjoyed getting huge tax revenues from them, yet they hate their product - even if their respective products go to arm our nation's armed forces.
It seems that Maryland and Connecticut have forgotten what it takes to ensure our freedoms - guns from great gun makers such as Colt and Beretta.