PTR Industries Moving To The Beach

It is a study in contrasts.

On the one hand you have Horry County, South Carolina and on the other is the state of Connecticut. The former offers a warm welcome, tax incentives, a nice climate, great beaches nearby, and a political community including Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) who not only are pro-gun but actually want you and your products in their state.

The latter has passed laws that has outlawed the sale of your only product in that state, has cold and dreary winters, a higher cost of living, and has a governor in Daniel Molloy (D-CT) who considers you the devil incarnate.

Given this, it is isn’t surprising that PTR Industries has chosen Horry County over Connecticut. It was announced yesterday at a meeting of the Horry County Council that they would be moving to the town of Aynor.

From the Hartford Courant:

The company — which said two months ago that it would be relocating once it found a suitable location “friendly to the industry” — will move to Aynor, S.C., near Myrtle Beach, said John McNamara, vice president of sales at PTR.

The gun manufacturer, with about 45 employees, was the first firm to announce its exit from the state following recent gun control legislation. Many of PTR’s employees agreed to the move and even held an informal vote choosing South Carolina over other states.

PTR currently has 45 employees at its plant in Bristol, Connecticut. They estimate that 24 of those employees will make the move to South Carolina. According to the Myrtle Beach Sun News, PTR has committed to increase their workforce to 80 by the end of the first year and to 145 employees by the end of 2016. This means the majority of the company’s employees will come from the local Horry County workforce.

According to my conversations with PTR representatives at the NRA Annual Meeting, they have been growing rapidly. Their current workforce is double what is was a year ago.

Some details of the agreement between Horry County and PTR Industries still remain undecided, including the amount of a fee in lieu of taxes the county will agree to and the millage rate at which the company’s equipment and other personal property will be taxed.

Those details will be included in actions Horry County Council must now take to solidify the agreement. The council will have to take three votes on the agreement, one of which will include a public hearing.

The county, state and Horry Electric Cooperative will fund upgrades to the shell building where the company will move, but those costs will be repaid by the company during the first two years of its lease of the building. It will pay the county $300,000 annually for the next nine years to lease the building, after which the county will deed it to PTR.

Lofton said the company wants a building that can be expanded. The shell building now has 58,000 square feet but can be expanded to 100,000 square feet, he said.

The company will invest $3 million in the building and has committed to an additional $5 million investment, including the cost of equipment, according to the agreement in the resolution.

If PTR doesn’t meet the benchmarks in the agreement, it will be responsible for the full amount of taxes, including that from state tax credits for job creation, that it would have paid without the agreement.

And it looks like PTR is not the only Connecticut firearms manufacturer looking at Horry County.  Both the Hartford Courant and the Myrtle Beach Sun News are reporting that Stag Arms is also being courted by the county. Mark Malkowski, CEO of Stag Arms, is scheduled to visit the area next week.

This report by FoxCT details some of the effort by South Carolina officials to persuade Connecticut companies to relocate.

Those Connecticut Politicians Do Like Their Secret Bills

The draconian gun control bill that was shoved through the Connecticut legislature at the beginning of April was a product of secret negotiations between Gov. Daniel Molloy (D-CT) and both Democrat and Republican leaders in the Connecticut legislature. Now comes word that they are at it again but this time it deals with the release of records relating to the school shooting in Newtown last December.

The staffs of the state’s top prosecutor and the governor’s office have been working in secret with General Assembly leaders on legislation to withhold records related to the police investigation into the Dec. 14 Newtown elementary school massacre — including victims’ photos, tapes of 911 calls, and possibly more.

The behind-the-scenes legislative effort came to light Tuesday when The Courant obtained a copy of an email by a top assistant to Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane, Timothy J. Sugrue. Sugrue, an assistant state’s attorney, discussed options considered so far, including blocking release of statements “made by a minor.”

“There is complete agreement regarding photos etc., and audio tapes, although the act may allow the disclosure of audio transcripts,” Sugrue wrote to Kane, two other Kane subordinates and to Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky, who is directing the investigation of the killings.

The bill that’s being crafted has not been handled under routine legislative procedures — it hasn’t gone through the committee process, which includes a public hearing, for example. Sugrue’s email Tuesday indicated that a draft of the bill was being worked on by leaders in both the House and Senate, and might be ready as soon as the end of the day.
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He wrote: “I just received a call from Natalie Wagner” — a member of the legal counsel’s staff in the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“She believes that draft language will be forthcoming today (the work of both houses) in the form of a special act. …” Sugrue wrote that Wagner “will send me the draft in confidence when she receives it, and I will immediately forward it.”

I have to admit that I’m getting more than a little tired of the Newtown parents being trotted out every time someone wants to pass either a new gun control law or, as it seems now, a restriction of the freedom of information. I feel for those parents and can understand their grief. However, since they have now achieved sainthood in the eyes of some, can’t we just give them their golden halos and say enough is enough.

The First Firearms Company Announces Departure From CT

PTR Industries, maker of the HK clone PTR-91, announced today that they will be leaving Bristol, Connecticut by the end of the year due to Bill No. 1160. They are still evaluating offers from other states who, in their good wisdom, want a company like PTR in their state.

In my speculation as to who would be leaving first, I should put them up higher on the list than Stag Arms or ASC. Given that all of PTR’s firearms will now be banned in the state, they were one of the strongest candidates.

From their release:


This past week an historic and highly controversial bill was passed by the State of Connecticut which will have far reaching consequences to the state, its citizens, and businesses. The bill we refer to is Bill No. 1160, AN ACT CONCERNING GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND CHILDRENS SAFETY. This bill purports to reduce gun violence by banning hardware responsible for less than 3% of homicides in 2011 ; and claims to increase children’s safety by restricting the ability of those most responsible for it – their parents – to defend them.

As a firearms manufacturing firm, our industrial roots reach deep in the State of CT. Along with other companies in the trade, we were deeply apprehensive at the hurried process to develop new gun laws and fearful that it would generate unintended consequences for our industry. On Thursday April 4th 2013, upon reading the full text of Bill 1160, our worst fears were confirmed. What emerged was a bill fraught with ambiguous definitions, insufficient considerations for the trade, conflicting mandates, and disastrous consequences for the fundamental rights of the people of CT.

The magnitude of the constitutional and economic importance of this bill is such that the disregard for public input (in the final version), and the haphazard production of the legislation should be insulting to any citizen or business in CT. It should be a shock to us all that such landmark legislation could be written in one week, and seen by no one (including the rank-and-file legislators) prior to its emergency certification. Having been present in the deliberations in both legislative chambers, it was clear that a majority of our legislators had not even read the bill – and those that had read it had only a cursory understanding.

The process with which this legislation proceeded, along with the language that resulted gives us no confidence that this will be the last violation of our rights in our beloved home state, and we only hope that this does not set a precedent at a national level.

The rights of the citizens of CT have been trampled upon. The safety of its children is at best questionably improved from the day of the tragedy that triggered the events that lead us here. Finally, due to an improperly drafted bill, manufacturing of modern sporting rifles in the State of CT has been effectively outlawed. With a heavy heart but a clear mind, we have been forced to decide that our business can no longer survive in Connecticut – the former Constitution state.

Furthermore, 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. We are making a call to all involved in our industry to leave this state, close your doors and show our politicians the true consequences of their hasty and uninformed actions. We encourage those in our industry to abandon this state as its leaders have abandoned the proud heritage that forged our freedom.

Although PTR has not decided upon a specific relocation site at this time, over the coming weeks the company will be actively considering offers from states that are friendly to the industry. We hope to have a site identified within the next six weeks, and hope to have our move completed by the end of this year. We plan to keep our business partners informed on the status of our move throughout this process in order to affect a smooth transition.

We have extended the invitation to join us in the move to all of our employees, as well as all of our vendors. We are pleased to say that we currently have commitments to move from a majority of our employees, which includes ALL of our management personnel, engineering staff and skilled gunsmiths.

It is our hope and sincere belief that this move will represent a step forward for the company; and that by bringing our expertise and core personnel to combine with the business friendly policies, and a motivated local labor force from a state that respects industry and the second amendment that we can expand our operations and not only maintain – but increase the quality and reputation of our products.

Please direct any questions or inquiries to John McNamara, Vice President of Sales, at or at our main phone number.

More On The Pressure To Move Out Of Connecticut

CNN actually did a rather fair story on Mark Malkowski of Stag Arms and Jonathan Scalise of ACS and the pressure they are feeling to move their companies out of Connecticut. Listen to Malkowski describe the incentives other states are offering to move. It makes you wonder just who is running Connecticut if an industry which provides so many “good” jobs is suddenly treated like an “untermensch”.

I would not be surprised to see either or both of the companies relocate out of Connecticut within the next year.

Along these same lines, Jeff Soyer of Alphecca looks at New Hampshire and why it might not be a great place to move. As he notes, the state is rapidly changing due to the influx of former residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Moving a firearms manufacturing facility to another state is an
expensive proposition. If a company decides to make such a decision,
it’s going to be somewhere where that company can be assured of steady
support for their company, products, and workers. The winds of change —
slight as they might be at the moment — in northern New England states
provide no reassurance of of that.

I think he makes a good point. 

Who Will Be The First To Leave?

Now that both Maryland and Connecticut have passed their draconian gun control acts, the question becomes who among the gun manufacturers in those two states will be the first to relocate.

On Thursday, there was an article in Opposing Views suggesting that Beretta USA had announced their departure from Maryland. However, if you read the article closely, this is incorrect. What Beretta actually said was that they would have to leave if the gun control legislation was passed. They have not yet made a formal announcement that they were moving their operations out of Maryland. I’m sure that probably will happen but it hasn’t happened yet.

So that leaves the question who will be first. Moreover, where will they move.

Both states have a number of well-known firearms manufacturers: Beretta, Colt, Ruger, and Mossberg. However, to get a better feel for the companies involved in firearms manufacturing in both states, I went to the ATF list of Federal Firearms Licensees. I pulled the 07 FFLs – manufacturers of firearms other than destructive devices – and 10 FFLs – manufacturers of destructive devices for each state. It should be noted that some of the firearms “manufacturers” in each state either make components or are actually gunsmiths doing custom work.

Maryland and Connecticut each have five manufacturers of destructive devices including big companies such as Beretta, Colt Defense, Colt’s Manufacturing, and  defense contractor Mistral Group. Under the listing for ordinary firearms manufacturers, Connecticut has 121 companies listed while Maryland has 105 companies listed. Below is a list by state of some of the true manufacturers as opposed to either gunsmiths or those providing ancillary services such as CNC milling or specialty coatings.



When discussing who will leave and who won’t, we need to keep a number of things in mind. First, you don’t just relocate a plant of any kind at the drop of a hat. Second, the companies involved have ties to their community and region going back generations. Third, very few, if any, of the manufacturers do everything and must depend upon local subcontractors to perform certain operations. Fourth, the companies would be losing a well trained workforce if they moved and their employees did not also relocate. Finally, with the firearm industry being heavily regulated, there would be immense amounts of red-tape involved in moving to a new state.

Dan Haar of the Hartford Courant looks at the issue in an article published yesterday entitled, “Gun Industry Dilemma: Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?” He notes the issue for some of these companies is not just having to move family but the consumer backlash on their companies if they don’t.

Scalise (of ASC) badly wants to stay in Connecticut, where he and his wife have four children ages 5 to 12. So does Mark Malkowski, owner of Stag Arms a few hundred yards away in New Britain, and the executives at O.F. Mossberg & Sons and Colt’s Manufacturing Co. — all of them makers of the now banned military-style rifles at the heart of the law.

The trouble is not the direct effects of the ban — they’re allowed to continue manufacturing, and each firm will lose a few percentage points of their sales — but rather, the companies’ standing in an industry where customers famously punish certain brands.

The companies have been receiving thousands of emails from both current and future customers urging them to move. Some have indicated they will purchase from other companies if, for example, Stag Arms, stays in Connecticut. Moreover, industrial recruiters from more gun friendly states have been offering incentives to the companies to move. Whether they will move lock, stock, and barrel or move some of the production to plants in other states is the question.

Haar believes that the majority will attempt to grow production at plants outside of the state while still having some operations in Connecticut. He notes that Mossberg has a plant in Texas. It should also be remembered that Colt opened a new factory in Osceola County, Florida in 2011. Likewise, in Maryland, Beretta has some operations in Virginia.

Having established metal fabricating and finishing companies in a state would be a definite plus in attracting any firearm company to relocate. You would tend to find many of these co-located with the automotive and aircraft industries. Thus, you could see companies moving to the Upstate of South Carolina due to BMW, to Alabama due to Mercedes, to Tennessee due to Nissan, or Kentucky due to Toyota. Likewise, you could see a company relocating to the Wichita, KS area with its aircraft industry. All of these locations are in gun friendly states with strong industrial development recruiting departments.

So who would be first to go? In terms of ease of relocating, Ruger would be at the top of the list. Their manufacturing operations are in New Hampshire and Arizona. The only operations they have in Connecticut are their corporate offices.

The next on my list would be either ASC or Stag Arms. ASC is actively considering it.

Scalise, his accountant, lawyer and a few industry colleagues are looking into a move to a friendlier state. And it’s not just ASC, a New Britain business with 100 employees, that might pull up stakes. Scalise’s other company in New Britain, Marsam Metal Finishing, and at least one other firm in the firearms industry are part of the joint plan.

In all, more than 300 people would lose their jobs or be forced to move to a locale like Arkansas, South Dakota, Kansas or Texas, to name just four states that are wooing Scalise with tax breaks, cheap labor and a government that has open arms for arms-makers.

“We’re doing a due diligence analysis state-by-state,” Scalise said.

Mark Malkowski of Stag is also considering moving.

Mark Malkowski, the 34-year-old founder of Stag Arms, said he grew up in New Britain, where the company is based, and had never before considered leaving the state. But he said he would consider it now.

“If our product is so bad, so dangerous, why would the state of Connecticut want us to produce it here, create jobs here, manufacture it here and ship it to all the other states?” he said.

You would also have to put Beretta up high on the list given their past statements.

As to the others, I foresee that they will move more and more operations out of state as time goes by.  While they all can “export” their products for now, you have to wonder how long the state will even allow that.

This all leaves one more entity to consider – the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It is hard for me to see just how long they can remain in Connecticut and not be considered to be tacitly endorsing the Connecticut gun control laws by staying.

NSSF On Passage Of Connecticut Legislation

The National Shooting Sports Foundation based in Newtown, Connecticut released the following statement yesterday regarding the passage of that state’s new gun control law. I think the most important part of their statement is the last sentence which says they are studying it for possible legal challenges.

I think this will be a given and not a possibility. The only question will be which gun rights organization files first.

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, issued the following statement today:

Gov. Dannel Malloy today signed into law a package of gun-control legislation that was assembled in secret by a small group of state legislators and that never received a public hearing. Most legislators had little time to even read the actual bill language.

The unfortunate results of this process, which made it appear that all points of view were being heard when in fact true expertise was shut out when it was most needed, means that mistakes in what is now enacted law will have to be corrected.

For example, language in the new law specifies a procedure for licensed firearms retailers to perform mandatory “universal” background checks on private party transactions that is not permissible based on federal law and regulations governing the National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) system. As we read it, this mistake in lawmaking means that all private party transactions in the state now cannot be accomplished legally.

We share the goal of wanting to make Connecticut safer for our citizens following the unspeakable tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the end, however, public safety has not been enhanced and the unintended consequences of behind-closed-doors lawmaking will cause considerable confusion until the General Assembly corrects its mistakes.

Here is where we stand today. Law-abiding citizens of this state now have greater restrictions on their Second Amendment and state constitutional rights while Connecticut’s firearms manufacturers will be forced to seriously weigh the impact on their businesses and their employees of the state’s double-standard of you can build it here, but not sell it here, public policy formulation.

We will be carefully studying all provisions of the law for possible challenge in the courts.

A Special Kind Of Arrogance

I can’t say anything more about Connecticut’s infamous Bill No. 1160 which was rammed through the General Assembly as emergency legislation than has already been said. 

That said, it takes a special kind of arrogance still to proclaim this on the State of Connecticut’s official “About Connecticut” webpage:

Connecticut is often described as the “Arsenal of the Nation.” It gained this reputation as early as the American Revolution. Early in the 19th century, Eli Whitney and Simeon North began making Connecticut firearms with interchangeable parts. This is generally recognized as the beginning of modern mass production.

Then there is there that other thing Connecticut likes to call itself – The Constitution State.

Only in their (lost) dreams.

Hartford Courant On The AR-15 And CT’s Gun Companies

The cover of today’s Hartford Courant featured the following headline – “America’s Rifle”: Factories Boom. Under the title the subtitle read, “As Debate Goes On, State Gun-Makers Cash In On Popular AR-15.”

Reporter Dan Haar of the Courant had two stories regarding the AR-15 and the role that Connecticut gun makers have in producing it. Both stories were well-balanced and fair. While the Violence Policy Center and Josh Sugarmann got quoted, so too did the heads of Colt, Stag Arms, and Mossberg.

The first story concentrated on the investments that Connecticut firearms manufacturers have made in upgrading plant and equipment. Combined the companies have spent well over $50 million in upgrading their plants with most of the investment going towards making the AR-15. Given that investment, the head of Mossberg agreed that it would be hard to up and leave the state even if they couldn’t sell rifles there. That said, the crap they are getting from their own legislators doesn’t give them a warm and cozy feeling.

Echoing other local owners and executives, Bartozzi said Mossberg would never threaten to pick up and leave if Connecticut were to adopt a strict ban. “That is not our style,” he said, and besides, he added, it’s not only a history the company has in Connecticut but more to the point, a skilled and loyal workforce.

“It is damn hard to move a factory,” he said.

On the other hand, Bartozzi said, “To say that Mossberg is not looking at other options would be wrong. … I’m not feeling a lot of love from many of our legislators. It’s getting tiring. It really is getting tiring. … It takes a lot out of you.”

Mossberg, with a factory of similar size in Texas, has had active talks with officials from Southern states trying to drive a wedge between the firm and its home state. All of the firms have similar stories.

 The second story by Haar looked at the history of the AR-15 and its rise in popularity. He did a good job of examining the versatility of the AR as contrasted to its “military cosmetics”. The article did an excellent job in looking at the development of the AR-15 by ArmaLite which was an offshoot from Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corp., the role of Colt in licensing the design, and how other companies entered the field.

I don’t normally say good things about the mainstream media but in this case, the Hartford Courant and Dan Haar, did an excellent job. Just as importantly, they played it straight and they got their facts right.

To Paraphrase, It’s Jobs, Stupid

The National Shooting Sports Foundation held a series of interviews with managers and workers of a number of Connecticut firearms and firearms accessory manufacturers recently. As the Connecticut legislature looks at a number of draconian gun control laws in the wake of the Newtown shootings, this video puts a human face on the workers of the Connecticut gun industry.

The interviews are with the leaders and employees of O.F. Mossberg, Stag Arms, and magazine maker Ammunition Storage Components.

To paraphrase political strategist James Carville, it’s jobs, stupid. While the jobs may not disappear overnight as it is hard to transfer operations to other locations, if these laws pass, I think you will see more and more of their operations being moved to more gun-friendly states. Indeed, industrial recruiters from such states are already hovering.

Hear, Hear, Mr. Ong!

Henson Ong is an immigrant to the United States. Yesterday he testified before the Connecticut legislature’s Gun Violence Prevention Public Hearing. Listening to his testimony, it quickly becomes evident that Mr. Ong has a better understanding of and a better appreciation for the Constitution than many sitting on the panel. He certainly has more of an appreciation for it than do those in the gun prohibitionist community who would seek to do away with the Second Amendment and to deny First Amendment rights to their opponents.

As Mr. Ong noted to the panel, if gun control actually worked, then Chicago and Washington, DC would be the safest cities in America – which they aren’t.