Earlier this year, the governor of our fine state stuck another well-documented knife in sportsmen's backs. The swift unprecedented passage of the SAFE law has a long-reaching effect not only on sportsmen, but also on the economy of our state.
New Jersey wasn't long behind in its attack on the Second Amendment and rights of Americans, and is also seeing companies leave its state.
Two gun makers announced recently that drastic changes will be coming to their companies. Henry Repeating Arms started off the week with the news that the company's facility in Rice Lake, Wis., not the one in New York, will be producing rifles by 2014 in Wisconsin. American Tactical Imports announced on Tuesday that it will be uprooting from its Rochester location and moving to Summerville, S.C.
Henry Repeating Arms purchased the 138,000-square foot Wisconsin facility in 2006. At the time the space was being used by Wright Products, which manufactured storm-door hardware. According to Henry's, Wright was forced to close after mounting pressure in the hardware industry. The gun maker kept 17 of Wright's employees and has since grown the facility's workforce to more than 100. The company also invested millions of dollars in the facility to prepare for manufacturing of Henry's famous steel centerfire rifles.
''I am proud of what we've accomplished in Wisconsin by saving jobs, adding jobs, and creating a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility,'' said Anthony Imperato, Henry president and owner. ''I decided to expand our operations here because of the outstanding job our employees do to help us meet increased demand.''
In a state that is supposed to be ''business friendly,'' or is attempting to be, the loss of firearm companies doesn't show that.
Henry's Bayonne location was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. Despite this, the gun maker rallied in the following weeks and saw record productivity after the repairs were finished.
''Henry's goal is always to manufacture a line of classic, well-crafted firearms that every enthusiast can afford,'' said general manager Andy Wickstrom. ''The passion, expertise, and dedication of our employees in Rice Lake embody the company's motto - Made In America Or Not Made At All. We are very proud to make Wisconsin a more integral part of the Henry Family.''
Henry Repeating Arms will continue operations in its New Jersey location as well.
ATI released a statement last week concerning a relocation to South Carolina. The transition will begin as early as this month and will involve an investment of $2.7 million. According to the company, the move to South Carolina was influenced by the state's gun-friendly environment and excellent access to ports of entry.
The New York legislature passed what is considered to be the be the nation's strictest set of gun-control laws earlier this year. Called the New York SAFE Act, the law includes provisions that would make it illegal to load more than seven rounds into 10-round magazines, lengthening the list of banned ''assault weapons'' and the creation of a registry for gun owners with prohibited firearms, as well as the introduction of background checks for ammo, although that provision has since been delayed.
''This move to South Carolina will help ensure a solid foundation for our company,'' said ATI president Tony DiChario. ''The relocation process will be smooth and we have ensured that the process will not affect customer service, product distribution or any other segment of our business. The people of South Carolina have welcomed ATI with open arms and we are excited about making our new corporate home there.''
Of course, the folks in South Carolina are excited about ATI. New York's loss is another state's gain. The question one has to ask is this: When are the folks in Albany going to stop passing laws that not only chase businesses out of the state, but also the average citizens? With the first Tuesday in November just around the corner, it's a time when sportsmen can have their voices heard.