Friday, February 03, 2006

Colt and Making Guns in New England

I was over at Michael Bane’s site reading about the probable sale of Colt’s military division to General Dynamics. He hasn’t heard what will happen to Colt’s already small civilian division. Another company may buy it or perhaps its tools and equipment may simply go on the auction block. Who knows what may happen to Colt’s horse logo and name.

Bane makes a very significant comment to his own post (comment number 3):
“What I would NOT be interested in is the facility itself, Connecticut, the unions, etc. I would downsize the heck out of the facility and use it only for 'boutique' manufacturing and/or custom runs, or just outright sell it off to USFA/Hartford.”
Colt would not have to go very far to sell itself to United State Fire-Arms located in Hartford, Connecticut. USFA already uses many of Colt’s patents to make cowboy action guns and is in fact Colt’s direct heir in these guns. They are moving into 1911s with reproductions of Colt’s old designs. I suppose if anyone bought out Colt’s civilian operations, USFA would be a good choice.

But, as I sat here and read Bane’s comment, I had to ask myself one question that I’m sure many of you have already asked. Why in hell are so many gun makers still in New England? (I live in New England now and I ask myself a similar question many times.) I’m a gun nut and most people in this region don’t like gun nuts. We still hold out in New Hampshire, Vermont, and part of Maine, but forget Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York with their huge populations.

Those populations could one day impose Massachusetts-type gun control on the rest of New England. They may be able to make business miserable for gun companies in “their” area such as Ruger in Connecticut, Smith & Wesson in Massachusetts, Sig’s American arm in New Hampshire, whatever’s left of Winchester in Connecticut, and of course USFA. This list does not include small gun makers, boutique shops, etc.

I know there are practical reasons for staying. Most own their physical plants. Their employees, many of them highly skilled, live here. Other reasons include the inertia of history, after all New England once armed the United States and welcomed its arms makers. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how much has changed since then.

As a reluctant New Englander, I second Michael Bane. I’d tell gun makers to get out of New England. Go to the sun. Go to places with fewer taxes. Go where your product is appreciated. Go to the American West or the South. Build a factory in New Mexico, or Utah, or Idaho, or South Carolina. Just get out of New England where high taxes, overly strong unions, and anti-gunnies make you spend time, effort, and money defending yourself. Go before the gun-grabbers tax, sue, or legislate you out of existence.

Solve the problems with moving. Help your employees come with you (they’ll do well if the own their own houses and can sell them for more than they’ll have to spend on new homes). Make favorable tax agreements with places that want you.

Forget history. Most of your neighbors in New England already have; at least when it comes to guns.

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