In the past several years, Wyoming has opened its arms to gun companies seeking to relocate from California, Connecticut, and Colorado – and it's just getting started.

In just the past decade, the Cowboy State has welcomed Hi-Viz sights and accessories giant Magpul, quickly followed by iconic rifle maker Weatherby and black rifle producer Stag Arms. In each of these cases, the manufacturer was looking to leave a state with strict anti-gun policies and bans on legal products for one with a more gun-friendly atmosphere.

"We care a lot about the firearms industry, and I can tell you that we will do everything to resist any kind of attempt to somehow do something to our Second Amendment rights," said Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) at the Governor's Forum during last month's SHOT Show.  

 

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) at the Governor's Forum during last month's SHOT Show. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) at the Governor's Forum during last month's SHOT Show. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

 

And 2A rights are where Wyoming excels

 

In the same past decade, the state has adopted laws codifying permitless carry, hunting with suppressors, stand-your-ground self-defense doctrine, and others. Just last year, Gordon signed the "Second Amendment Protection Act" that bars local law enforcement from assisting in federal gun control efforts, another law that halts governmental gun seizures during emergencies, as well as an important firearm financial discrimination law.

"So, one of the most exciting things that we've done that I think has been powerful has been we passed legislation, signed it into law last year that said you cannot discriminate against firearms manufacturers in your payment," said Gordon. "You cannot do that."

Meanwhile, the state's Governor's Match is one of the largest 3-Gun competitions in the country.

"It is so rewarding to see people that are supportive of Second Amendment, supportive of shooting sports," said Gordon. "For me, it’s interesting growing up on a ranch, firearms were always something we had around ever since I was a kid. I used to go out to the plain and we had lots of prairie dogs and everything else. So, I think the culture of Wyoming is one that just embraces firearms. The Governor's Match is certainly a huge draw across the country. And it's fun to see top-notch shooters come and mix it up with, with folks that are just starting to shoot and become much more proficient and much more comfortable with firearms."

A bill is currently in motion to build a sweeping $10 million state shooting sports complex, with money provided in part by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Office of Tourism. 

 

$688 Million Annual Impact

 

According to 2021 data from federal regulators, Wyoming was home to no less than 59 Type 07 FFLs – firearms manufacturers. Chief among these was recent California transplant, Weatherby, who made no less than 7,630 rifles in its new plant in Sheridan. In Cody – home to the revamped Cody Firearms Museum – are both custom rifle maker Best of The West Arms, which handcrafted 413 guns in 2021, and a greatly expanding Gunwerks, which made a cool 1,209. Cheyenne is home to AR maker Stag Arms, formerly of Connecticut, while revolver maker Freedom Arms is, logically, located in Freedom, Wyoming. 

Such companies across the state, counted with hundreds of retail locations that sell firearms, ammunition, and hunting equipment, employed as many as 2,102 people in Wyoming in 2021, as estimated by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Further, those endeavors generate an additional 640 jobs for their suppliers and related industries. This translates to a whopping $688 million-per-year economic impact on the state.

 

Economic impact Wyoming firearms industry
Chart: NSSF, 2021 figures

 

Added to this is a new plant that Florida-based KelTec announced last year that will bring 250 new jobs to Rock Springs. Odds are, it won't be the last. 

Banner image: A Wyoming-made Weatherby Mark V rifle chambered for .338 Wby in its natural habitat. (Photo: Weatherby)

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