SMYRNA — As venerable gunmakers like Colt and Sturm, Ruger & Co. look to relocate out of at least two states with strict new gun control laws, Cobb County officials are putting out the welcome mat.
“Luring another gun manufacturer to town would put Cobb on the map for that specific industry,” said Brooks Mathis, vice president of economic development at the Cobb Chamber. “Our biggest selling point to them is 80 percent of the U.S. population can be reached by truck from here in two days. We also have the lowest taxes in metro Atlanta and good schools.”
Cobb County has been home to gunmaker GLOCK Inc. since 1987, and according to Mathis, officials there have agreed to be a part of the chamber’s “Choose Cobb” marketing campaign aimed at luring some of their competitors to town.
“They have offered to help recruit these companies by sharing their experiences here,” Mathis said. “Advanced manufacturing operations like these pay good wages and are clean, safe industries.”GLOCK employs around 200 people in Cobb, and Mathis said he would expect a new manufacturer would create roughly the same number of jobs.
The push to reform gun laws began in Connecticut following the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The new law there adds more than 100 firearms to the state’s assault weapons ban and creates what officials call the nation’s first dangerous weapon offender registry, as well as eligibility rules for buying ammunition, leaving Colt and Sturm, Ruger & Co. feeling unwelcome. AR-15 manufacturer Stag Arms, along with Colt’s Manufacturing and Mossberg & Sons could also join the exodus, which published reports say could cost the Nutmeg State 3,000 jobs and an estimated $1.75 billion in annual taxable revenues.
Across the country in Colorado, Magpul Industries, which manufactures firearms accessories and ammunition magazines, said on its Facebook page if that state’s governor signed a bill banning ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, it would have “no choice” but to leave the state, taking its 200 jobs and $85 million in annual taxable revenues with it.
The bill was signed in March. In July 2012, a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The fallout from all of the new legislation has other states and communities across the country scrambling to get a piece of the action, but according to Smyrna-based Adventure Outdoors owner Jay Wallace, Texas is Georgia and Cobb County’s biggest competition.
“I have spoken with all the major manufacturers in our industry about relocating here as recently as two weeks ago,” Wallace said in mid-May. “One very large manufacturer is looking at Texas and Georgia, and we are in high running to bring that manufacturer, that I can’t name at this point, here.”