Connecticut Gunmakers: Think Jobs — Lawmakers: Thinking of Kids

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A class taught by King 33 Training at a shooting range on Feb. 24, 2013 in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Connecticut’s gun manufacturers unleashed an advertising campaign this week intended to remind residents of the jobs the industry provides — along with a not-so-subtle hint that the companies could pick up and leave.

The campaign kicked off as leaders from Connecticut’s General Assembly are meeting to draft a gun control bill intended to respond to the Dec. 14 shooting that left 20 school children and six adults dead in a Connecticut elementary school.

Democratic leaders in the Legislature, who hold majorities in both chambers, have said a bill will likely include elements the industry abhors, including limiting magazine capacities to 10 from 30 and expanding the state assault weapons ban.

Jake McGuigan, a government relations director at the National Sports Shooting Foundation, an industry trade group, said in a statement that banning assault weapons “presents the real prospect of decreasing good-paying jobs in our state.”

He added: “The value of our companies’ brands and national consumer acceptance of firearms made in a state that bans them within its own borders are serious business issues.”

In one commercial, Joseph Bartozzi, a senior vice president at O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a North Haven-based gun manufacturer, says: “Many other states have called here repeatedly asking us to move there.” He quickly adds: “Now the Mossberg family resisted those efforts. We want to be part of the solution.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn have both written to weapons manufacturers located in states considering gun control legislation inviting them to move. At least one Connecticut gun company has also heard offers from Virginia, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Carolina, said Michael Bazinet, a spokesman for the National Sports Shooting Foundation. He declined to specify the company.

The Connecticut gun companies have not responded to the invitations, Bazinet said. “All are waiting to see the results of the ongoing discussion in the General Assembly,” he said in an email.

The trade group spent about $50,000 buying airtime in Connecticut for the advertisements. They produced three commercials — each featuring a different company. One highlights Colt Defense LLC, showing West Hartford-based company’s brick factory. Another stars Stag Arms, a gun company based in New Britain.

“We directly employ a couple hundred people. But we indirectly employ thousands throughout the state,” said Mark Malkowski, the president and founder of Stag Arms in the commercial.

One element missing from the commercials: The completed assault weapons that many Democratic lawmakers in Connecticut want to ban. The longest the camera lingers on a weapon is in the Mossberg commercial, where viewers see .45 caliber pistols made for the U.S. Marine Corps.

See the ads from Colt:

Mossberg:

and Stag Arms:

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