Is There A Penalty For Operating Gun Companies "Behind Enemy Lines?"

Stag Arms is refusing to leave anti-gun Connecticut, and some gun owners say they will refuse to buy their rifles unless the company leaves the state.

It can’t be easy being a gun company in Connecticut.

On one hand, you’re deluged with laws passed by a radically anti-gun government that—if enforced as written—can shut down your business overnight, making it all but impossible for you to work with subcontractors and shipping companies. Your workers are barred from owning many of the products they produce, and if you think about moving to a more business-friendly state, you’ll likely lose many of your best employees. Compounding the issue, the market appears to be softening for most long-guns after the post-Newtown rush, and the demand for your products is declining, so it seems harder to justify an expensive move to another state.

At the same time, there are many gun owners who might otherwise enthusiastically buy your products who refuse to buy your firearms because they don’t want to contribute to the economy of anti-liberty states.

It’s a brutal downward spiral that has affected the fortunes of AR-15 builder Stag Arms:

Mark Malkowski of Stag Arms says, ‘business has really slowed down but what we’re doing is coming up with other versions or other configurations (of the A-R-15) [sic] to try to keep as many jobs in Connecticut as we can.”

But unfortunately there are fewer people working in the four building complex there.
14 months ago there were about 200.

“After the law was passed, unfortunately, it did nothing to make the state safer and in fact it hurt jobs in the state of Connecticut so unfortunately now we’re down to about 150 employees,” Malkowski said.

For Malkowski that was very hard because he says it was the first time he had to layoff employees in the eleven years he has run ‘Stag Arms.’

He says that he has lost some regular customers, as several smaller gun shops have closed around the state and some out of state customers are unhappy that he continues to operate here.

He says, “they would rather see us in a different place.”

Comments to the story reflect both sides of the issue, with some commentors deploring the anti-gun/anti-business policies of Dannel Malloy’s progressive government, and others promising that they’ll never buy a Stag Arms rifle as long as the company stays in Connecticut.

While Malkowski promises that if the company does expand that he’ll look out-of-state, some are wondering if it might already be a matter of “too little, too late.”

The same potential problem may also affect the recently reconstituted Colt Defense, and to a lesser extent, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, which is still primarily focused on sporting arms and isn’t as heavily invested in a softening AR-15 market.

PTR Industries, an admittedly smaller (for now) company dedicated to building G3-style rifles, saw the writing on the wall in Connecticut and knew that to survive, they’d have to leave the anti-gun/anti-business state. They found a new home in Aynor, South Carolina, where the company is thriving, and will soon thank their new state with a series of limited edition South Carolina commemorative rifles (we’ll release more on that next week).

ptr sc
A South Carolina commemorative PTR-91 rifle, Photo by the author at PTR industries.

It seems that many gun owners are increasingly considering gun politics in their purchases of new firearms.

Whether or not purchasers end up forcing companies to move, or simply end up pushing companies behind “enemy lines” out of business remains to be seen.