PTR Industries, a company that manufactures high end semi-automatic rifles is relocating to South Carolina after Connecticut enacted stricter gun control laws. According to Vice President of Sales, John McNamara, the decision to relocate was based upon the more- friendly gun rights laws.
In a particularly obtuse observation, CT state senator Beth Bye stated that it was “ironic” that the gun manufacturer would relocate after a poll was released that indicated 57% of Connecticut residents supported the new gun laws and that nothing in the gun laws prevented them from making and selling guns, even though they cannot be purchased or sold within the state.
Democrat US Senator Richard Blumenthal stated that he’s “disappointed” in PTR’s decision to move, but would “work with state and local officials to ensure our businesses get the support they need to flourish in Connecticut”. Given that only West Virginia and Ohio have worse records in creating small businesses, Connecticut has a problem with being “business friendly”. While Ohio has made great strides to change its business unfriendly environment, Connecticut politicians haven’t learned that lesson yet.
While both sides of the gun debate will argue about the economic impact of gun regulations and relocation of gun manufacturers, economic activity is a very complex and dynamic field that is not easily attributed to any one factor. While the relocation of one manufacturer costs some jobs directly, the indirect costs are more difficult to measure.
Further, the measure of that “tipping point” that will cause a business to make the decision to endure the costs, hardship and disruption of relocating that in turn influences other businesses (and customers) to relocate or decide not to enter Connecticut is usually only known after the fact. Think stock market panics and bank runs.
Undoubtedly, the 57% that support the Connecticut gun laws probably either don’t care or are even happy that the gun manufacturer left the state, they may eventually learn the same lesson that has impacted Detroit, many cities in California, Ohio, West Virginia, Rhode Island and even New York City. There comes that tipping point where both people and businesses either cannot or will not tolerate additional regulatory and tax burdens that utterly fail in a cost-benefit analysis.
Since the legislation was signed into law, gun owners, gun dealers and gun rights organizations have joined together in a lawsuit against the governor and members of the state’s attorney office, stating that the laws violate the Constitution. In May, 2013, State Police Col. Danny Stebbins stated that since the law passed, the backlog of background checks exploded from 1000 to around 62,000. The overwhelming backlog and delays are a cause for alarm according to State Senator John Kissell, a co-chairman in the Review and Investigations committee.
State Police Col. Stebbins stated that there was no way that they could have prepared for the sudden backlog, given they hadn’t foreseen it and the issues the state is facing with State Police staffing negotiations. According to Sgt. Andrew Matthews, president of the Connecticut State Police Union, the State Police have already been doing more with less.
He stated that “there is a real struggle with the Malloy administration to be fiscally responsible. With fewer people, and no money to be spent on overtime, you can’t have it both ways. We are seeing now that the job is not getting done in some cases.” The governor is planning on most of the new hires being civilian because their pay is lower than that of sworn troopers.
According to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the gun control law will cost Connecticut taxpayers $17 million through 2015, with $4 million to conduct background checks, issue permits and establish a gun offender registry. It will also significantly increase the compliance costs for gun stores, gun buyers and increase the caseloads of the criminal justice system for citizens suddenly turned into criminals by virtue of the stroke of a pen.
While the current governor and legislators are celebrating the passage of the strict gun control laws, they may find it a hollow victory in the economic future of the state. Politicians who favor strict gun control also tend to favor increased regulations of businesses and individuals as well. Due to some states and cities learning more about effectively competing for all types of business and economic growth, businesses and individuals can still vote with their feet and do when the cost of staying outweighs the cost of leaving.
After the experiences of law enforcement in cities and states that promised lavish union contracts with great retirement plans, only to renege on those promises when businesses fled and the revenue they provided evaporated, it would be foolish not to pay attention to the economic conditions and government policies influencing them within Connecticut. The new anti-gun legislation also promises to potentially embroil every police agency within Connecticut in lawsuits over the enforcement of this legislation, further reducing available resources to deal with actual criminals, as opposed to the technical gun law violations.
The state of Connecticut may want to remember the old cliché “be careful what you ask for; you may get it.”
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Juli Adcock began her career in law enforcement with the Escambia County Florida Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy until she was injured in a riot situation. She transferred to Judicial Security and retired in 1998. Juli pursued career advancement training with an emphasis on officer survival, interviews and interrogation. She worked with a local Rape Crisis Center and in victim’s advocacy, complementing her college course work in psychology. She currently resides in New Mexico and is an instructor with The Appleseed Project (www.appleseedinfo.org). The Appleseed Project is a rifle marksmanship clinic teaching the fundamentals of firing an accurate round downrange every 3 to 4 seconds, out to 500 yards, as well as American history. She has trained military personnel at White Sands Missile Range who are certifying as Squad Designated Marksmen. Juli instructs basic handgun skills to new gun owners in preparation for responsible personal gun ownership. She also writes for The Badge Guys (www.thebadgeguys.com). She can be reached at [email protected] or through Law Enforcement Today