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Belt-tightening in Connecticut: the Cost of Gun Control

Friday, March 3, 2017

Belt-tightening in Connecticut: the Cost of Gun Control

A recent study released by the Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) examined the economic impact of the gun industry and gun control laws on state jobs and revenue in the Constitution State.

The firearms industry has a long history in Connecticut, including companies with roots that date back to before the Civil War. According to the NSSF, though, in 2016 Connecticut had 4,900 people employed in the firearms industry and related fields, a drop of almost 40% from 2013.

Tax revenues paid by the industry also dropped substantially, from $134 million to $85 million during the period. Similarly, the industry’s total impact on the state’s economy was down by nearly $700 million. One firearm manufacturer, PTR Industries of Bristol, Connecticut, in announcing its move out of the state, pointed to new gun laws, adding that “we feel that our industry as a whole will continue to be threatened so long as it remains in a state where its elected leaders have no regard for the rights of those who produce and manufacture its wealth.”

These are jobs and revenues that the state can ill-afford to lose. As noted in an earlier alert, Connecticut is in the midst of a fiscal crisis, facing a two-year, $3.6 billion budget deficit. The state is already treading water on jobs: one commentator estimates that the employment level in Connecticut in 2016 was below the level of jobs that existed 27 years earlier, in 1989. Employment in Connecticut’s manufacturing sector, in particular, has decreased drastically over the last 25 years. 

There’s no mystery as to why firearms industries are abandoning Connecticut and other jurisdictions that disregard constitutional freedoms and the economic contributions made by gun-rights supporters. Gun companies don’t feel welcome in states with anti-gun agendas and extreme laws restricting or prohibiting their products. After Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy imposed sweeping gun control reforms in 2013, a Newington gun store and shooting range operator observed that “Nobody in the gun business wants to be associated with Connecticut. My family has been in business in Connecticut since 1919, and I can’t wait to get … out of this state…There are a lot of states in the union that love what I do.”

This unfavorable business climate comes with a price tag. Analyzing what it calls “the Malloy Economy,” the NSSF concluded that if gun industry contributions to state tax revenues over the last three years been equal to those made in 2013, Connecticut “would have another $140 million in its coffers.”

Connecticut is far from an isolated case. Following the imposition of new gun control laws in Colorado in 2013 – measures promoted by Governor John Hickenlooper – Magpul Industries relocated its manufacturing operations from Erie, Colorado to more gun-friendly Wyoming. The move cost Colorado at least $85 million in lost revenues.

Instead of seeking to retain and attract firearm businesses and jobs, as other states have done, Connecticut has opted to make itself even less appealing to gun companies and gun owners. As we’ve reported previously, the governor’s new two-year budget proposes exorbitant increases in the fees for pistol permits and background checks. These proposals are projected to bring in an estimated $11.6 million per year, a small fraction of the millions that the firearms industry and related fields would have generated had things remained unchanged since 2013.

Unfortunately for the residents of the state (and the gun owners who will be shouldering these increased fees and costs), Governor Malloy looks committed to his anti-gun agenda, regardless of its very real impact on his state’s economy.

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