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Innovation Drives Gun Industry Growth Spurt

Innovation Drives Gun Industry Growth Spurt

Many have been reporting that gun sales have been breaking records for years, but few realize that the number of gun makers in America has also been surging. Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is the agency that regulates the firearms industry, shows that the number of gun makers that produce 50 or more guns per year increased from 318 in 2012 to 400 in 2014. That’s a 25.8-percent increase in just two years.Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ... shows that the number of gun makers that produce 50 or more guns per year increased from 318 in 2012 to 400 in 2014.

Actually, this robust gun marketplace is in the midst of a competitive upheaval. As a result, many gun companies have been on the move. Some, as you’ll see, are moving because market forces are driving them to reduce costs. But many have been pressured to move because a state legislature decided to blame American freedom for the actions of criminals.

Some, such as Kahr Arms and Magpul, left states that banned their firearms or “high-capacity” magazines. Others, such as Mossberg and Remington, are choosing to expand in more gun-friendly states. Beretta has perhaps been the most vocal about moving because its products were banned by the state where they were manufactured.

In early 2013, Maryland’s General Assembly was considering banning AR-15s and other popular rifles in a package of restrictions on our constitutional right to bear arms. Jeff Reh, Beretta USA’s general counsel and vice-general manager, testified before the state’s assembly. He explained that the gun-control laws then being considered would only impede the rights of law-abiding citizens, and he told the legislators if they passed bans and restrictions that Beretta would have no choice but to move its factory out of Maryland.

On April 4, 2013, the Maryland General Assembly approved its gun and magazine ban. Former Gov. Martin O’Malley quickly signed the legislation into law.

At the time, Reh said, “I think they thought we were bluffing. But Berettas don’t bluff.”

After a search for a new location, Beretta chose Gallatin, Tenn. And as of April 15 they are officially open in their Tennessee home. The $45 million factory was built by Beretta USA through a combination of its own funding and with the assistance of grants provided by Tennessee and the city of Gallatin. 

What’s also noteworthy—and if you buy guns this should interest you—is that the marketplace for guns in America isn’t just robust, but is also seeing what has often been called capitalism’s “creative destruction.” American entrepreneurship is pushing gun makers to innovate and make better and more competitively priced products or die.

The latest examples of these market forces at work include SIG Sauer and Remington. SIG announced it is relocating its ammunition manufacturing from Eubank, Ky., to a permanent location in Jacksonville, Ark. Company officials said they anticipate hiring about 50 people in Jacksonville and likely more as they expand their ammo business. 

Remington Outdoor Company has announced it is closing its Mayfield, Ky., firearms operation. The company is consolidating more of its manufacturing in its relatively new plant in Huntsville, Ala. “Approximately” 200 people will be displaced in this relocation, according to Remington.The big picture is that ammo and gun manufacturers in America have almost all benefitted from a rising tide of gun and ammo sales and gun owners.

The big picture is that ammo and gun manufacturers in America have almost all benefitted from a rising tide of gun and ammo sales and gun owners. In fact, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) published a report saying the industry is not only doing just fine, but has actually grown by 158 percent since President Barack Obama was first sworn in. The NSSF also reported that the total economic impact of the firearms and ammunition industry in the U.S. increased from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $49.3 billion in 2015. The NSSF also reported that, in that same time period, the total number of full-time jobs related to gun making in the U.S. rose from about 166,000 to almost 288,000.

All of this has resulted in the improved health of a vital segment of our economy. Today, about two-thirds of the guns sold in America are made in America. What other manufacturing sector that actually cuts metal and wood into products, and that serves 100 million American consumers, can say that?

As for the politics, President Ronald Reagan once noted that part of the beauty of America is that people can “vote with their feet.” Companies can do that, too ... unless, of course, the federal government punishes all law-abiding Americans for what criminals do. That is what would happen if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and has enough votes in Congress to do what she says she wants to do to your rights—and to our gun manufacturers.