Should taxpayers pay millions to subsidize gun manufacturers?

Taxpayers have paid more than $120 million in subsidies to attract firearms makers to their states since 2013, liberal political magazine Mother Jones reported.

According to the piece, major gun manufacturers like Remington, Berretta and Smith & Wesson are enjoying tax subsidies for deciding to move their factories to southern states, where firearm regulations aren’t as harsh.

So what’s wrong with states using their tax dollars for subsidies to attract gun manufacturers?

Nothing, if you ask the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade association.

“The state economic development agencies that make the decisions to provide incentives to companies do so because they realize the value of the highly-skilled manufacturing jobs that are involved,” NSSF spokesperson Michael Bazinet told “These jobs have a well-recognized economic multiplier effect and contribute positively to job growth and retention on the part of suppliers and vendors.”

If you ask trade unions, like the ones that represented workers for Sturm Ruger in New Hampshire and Remington in New York, the moves hurts those workers.

According to NSSF data compiled in its 2014 Industry Economic Impact Report, the sporting arms and ammunition industry paid out almost $13.8 trillion in wages to American workers and had an economic impact of almost $43 trillion. The industry also paid $3.1 trillion in federal taxes and $2.7 trillion in state taxes. 2015 data should be available in April, Bazinet said.

“These are solid middle-class jobs that support families who shop at local retail stores, eat at area restaurants and buy from a range of other providers in the service sector,” Bazinet said. “Does the ultra-liberal Mother Jones object to providing incentives to other manufacturing jobs? Or are they motivated by no-nothingness when it comes to firearms manufacturing? We suspect the latter.”     

Here’s the list gathered by the magazine:

Remington Arms, Madison, North Carolina
Move: Owned by a New York private equity fund, Remington in 2014 laid off more than 100 workers at its 200-year-old unionized factory in Ilion, New York (the site of its original headquarters) and opened a new nonunion factory in Huntsville, Alabama.
Subsidy: $68.9 million in cash, worker training, tax abatements, real estate, and construction work from state and local governments. The company also received nearly $12 million in grants, tax credits, and other benefits from New York, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oklahoma in exchange for training workers and expanding or retaining factories.

Sturm Ruger,  Southport, Connecticut
Move:  In 2014, the nation’s largest gun company opened a new factory in Mayodan, North Carolina, instead of expanding an existing factory in New Hampshire.
Subsidy: $15.5 million in state tax breaks, employee training, infrastructure construction, and other incentives. The company has also received $150,288 in training subsidies from New Hampshire.

Berretta USA, Accokeek, Maryland
Move: The Italian gun maker last year closed its Maryland plant and moved all US production to a massive factory in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Subsidy: The company will receive $10.41 million in state-funded building improvements and job training grants. The town of Gallatin also kicked in land and tax abatements worth nearly $4 million.

Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Massachusetts.
Move: Publicly traded Smith & Wesson announced in 2010 that it would move its hunting rifle division from New Hampshire to Springfield, Massachusetts.
Subsidy: $6.6 million in state and local tax breaks. The company has also received $158,791 in worker-training subsidies from Massachusetts.

Colt’s Manufacturing, Hartford, Connecticut
Move: In 2011 Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced a deal in which the 180-year-old gun company would open a factory in Kissimmee, saying it showed the state was “a defender of our right to bear arms.” But then Colt walked away from the project for unknown reasons. The company declared bankruptcy last year.
Subsidy: $1.66 million in state and local incentives. Government officials are now trying to claw back the money.

O.F. Mossberg & Sons, North Haven, Connecticut.
Move: The world’s largest manufacturer of pump-action shotguns has gradually shifted manufacturing from Connecticut to a factory in Eagle Pass, Texas. In 2014, it added 116,000 square feet to the factory, which now accounts for 90 percent of its production.
Subsidy: A $300,000 grant in 2014 from the taxpayer-funded Texas Enterprise Fund.

Kimber Manufacturing, Elmsford, New York
Move: America’s largest manufacturer of 1911 pistols hasn’t moved out of New York—at least not yet. In 2012 the company warned that the state’s NY SAFE gun control law might “cause it to reconsider its current expansion.”
Subsidy: In 2009, Kimber received a $700,000 state grant to expand its manufacturing capacity in Yonkers. In 2012 and 2013, it received nearly $300,000 in local tax credits. 

Article updated with information from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

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