According to family lore, three Owens brothers from Wales left their home country, spent a brief amount of time in Ireland, and then immigrated to the United States in the 1850s, landing in Philadelphia. At least one of the three brothers moved to North Carolina, and when the War of Northern Aggression broke out, my ancestors—like so many families—fought wearing both the blue and the grey.
During that horrible conflict, the Confederate States of America were arguably better led and better fighters, killing roughly 105,000 more Union soldiers and generating 138,000 more casualties.
So why did they lose?
A historical note from the National Park Service explains that it was largely a matter of demographics, logistics, and of course, industrial might.
In 1860, the South was still predominantly agricultural, highly dependent upon the sale of staples to a world market. By 1815, cotton was the most valuable export in the United States; by 1840, it was worth more than all other exports combined. But while the southern states produced two-thirds of the world’s supply of cotton, the South had little manufacturing capability, about 29 percent of the railroad tracks, and only 13 percent of the nation’s banks. The South did experiment with using slave labor in manufacturing, but for the most part it was well satisfied with its agricultural economy.
The North, by contrast, was well on its way toward a commercial and manufacturing economy, which would have a direct impact on its war making ability. By 1860, 90 percent of the nation’s manufacturing output came from northern states. The North produced 17 times more cotton and woolen textiles than the South, 30 times more leather goods, 20 times more pig iron, and 32 times more firearms. The North produced 3,200 firearms to every 100 produced in the South…
Now, if we flash forward to 2014, we find that the small arms manufacturing capability that was responsible for helping the Union win the war is now abandoning the northeast and fleeing to the traditional southern states.
PTR Industries Inc is among a wave of firearms makers moving or expanding away from the industry’s traditional base in the U.S. Northeast to the more gun-friendly South.
Gun sales in the United States have grown steadily over the past 30 years and spiked last year after the Newtown shootings because of fear of coming restrictions, analysts said.
“Everybody who is looking to expand in new factory space is looking outside the Northeast. The reasons are taxes, labor and laws,” said Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst with CRT Capital Group.
A maker of expensive target rifles, PTR announced an $8 million investment in South Carolina, and moved about 45 jobs to a factory near Myrtle Beach in January.
PTR’s limited edition commemorative rifle, which sells for $1,200, is stamped with the South Carolina logo and the words: “We the people shall not be infringed.” Alabama announced in February that Remington Outdoor Co Inc was moving some production lines from Ilion, New York, where it has been based since 1816, to Huntsville, Alabama, with a $110 million investment that promises to bring 2,000 jobs to the Southern state.
Connecticut-based Sturm Ruger & Co Inc is building a 220,000-square-foot facility in North Carolina, the company’s first major expansion in more than 25 years, it said. Colt’s Manufacturing Co, also based in Connecticut, moved its Colt Competition rifle manufacturer to Texas last year. Beretta USA, based for decades in Accokeek, Maryland, is building a $45 million firearms research and manufacturing plant in Gallatin, Tennessee, after Maryland banned sales of specific types of assault weapons last year.
Courted by several states, Beretta made a list of “traditional true blood Second Amendment states” for consideration, general counsel and vice-general manager Jeff Reh told The Sportsman Channel.
Gun company relocation and expansion to better locations are in protest against new gun control laws, firearm industry analyst Rommel Dionisio of Wedbush Securities told Reuters.
The gun makers’ aging northeastern factories are also a factor, according to Ruttenbur.
The 150-year-old gun industry started in the Northeast as companies such as Smith and Wesson Holding Corp, Remington Arms Co Inc and Colt took advantage of the availability of cheap steel.
Attitudes toward gun ownership are now polarized and geographically separated, said Ruttenbur.
“The demand for guns is not in the Northeast. It’s not on the coasts. Gun ownership is dramatically going higher in the heartland,” he said.
Indeed. and therein lies the problem for those who would remake this nation against the will of the citizenry.