Published DateHere's the latest example of head-splitting cognitive dissonance in Washington: President Obama used his State of the Union address to crusade for a revitalized U.S. manufacturing sector. But while he pays lip service to supporting businesses that build their products on American soil, Obama and his left-wing operatives are hell-bent on driving a key sector of the U.S. manufacturing industry six feet under: the American firearms and ammunition industry.
The White House is pushing new government spending to "spur economic growth," protect manufacturing plants and "create good-paying jobs" to help America's middle class. Yet across the country, with aggressive lobbying by the White House itself, Democrats are working to destroy tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and the firms that created them. Assault rhetoric has lasting real-world consequences.
In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed radical, ineffectual gun-grabbing measures that are backfiring in more ways than one. Nearly half a dozen gun companies have now announced that they will no longer sell their products to police in the Empire State. In protest of Cuomo's gun-control regime banning citizens from owning semi-automatic rifles or shotguns because of cosmetic features deemed "military-style," Washington-based Olympic Arms "will no longer be doing business with the State of New York or any governmental entity or employee of such governmental entity within the State of New York."
According to USA Today, other companies including "LaRue Tactical, York Arms, Templar Custom and EFI, as well as sporting-goods retailer Cheaper Than Dirt" have also joined the sales boycott of New York.
Worse news for New York citizens: At least one local manufacturer, the storied Remington Arms Company founded in Ilion, N.Y., in 1816, is in dire financial danger as a result of Cuomo's draconian regulations. The company's innovations in weaponry and ammunition have been used in sporting, self-defense, law enforcement and warfare for two centuries.
Now, as a result of hysteria-induced government pandering, nearly 40 percent of Remington's weapons can no longer be sold to citizens legally. Its small-town plant employs more than 1,300 people in a town of 8,000 and generates revenue of an estimated $400 million from sales in the U.S. and 55 other countries. As an Ilion local official noted, "Remington is not only a major employer, but it's a historic employer. It's been part of our very fiber for 200 years."
And so it is with the rest of the industry. Despite tough economic times, firearms and ammunition companies have created nearly 27,000 well-paying jobs over the past two years alone, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Businesses in the United States that manufacture, distribute and sell firearms, ammunition and hunting equipment employ nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. and generate an additional 110,000-plus jobs in supplier and ancillary industries.
"These are good jobs, paying an average of $46,858 in wages and benefits," the NSSF reports. In addition, "the firearms and ammunition industry was responsible for as much as $31.84 billion in total economic activity in the country ... (and) the industry and its employees pay over $2.07 billion in taxes including property, income and sales based levies."
In my adopted home state of Colorado, where unemployment hovers near 8 percent, nearly a dozen businesses are being forced to consider leaving their home state because of extremist gun-control proposals. Vice President Joe Biden himself leaned on Democratic lawmakers to support an arbitrary 15-round limit on ammunition magazines. So, what have Sheriff Joe and his gun-grabbing pals wrought? Denver-based ammo magazine manufacturer Magpul served notice that it will take its 400 full-time employees and subcontractors somewhere else. Magpul generates some $85 million in spending in the state.
As the Denver Post reported, the privately held company makes an array of consumer products in addition to sales to the military, law enforcement and gun owners. And because Magpul has made a conscientious effort to support other Colorado companies, the ripple effect could reach far beyond the gun industry — including several cutting-edge innovators in the plastics-injection-molding business. One of Magpul's most important contractors, Denver-based Alfred Manufacturing Co., employs 150 residents. It, too, will "relocate part or all of our operations out of state" if Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper enacts the stringent gun-control regime pushed by Biden and company. The company has already put expansion plans on hold.
Smart lawmakers from Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona and South Carolina are now courting Remington away from New York and Magpul away from Colorado. For now, these states can offer business-friendly, Second Amendment-defending climates that support a demonized industry. But how much longer will it be until Obama and the pro-jobs hypocrites on Capitol Hill find new, more nefarious ways to obstruct this innovation-driving, wealth-producing sector of the American economy? Make no mistake: Gun-control demagoguery is a lethal weapon.
(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)