Business has been good for Rockland County-based Kahr Arms, so much so that it plans to expand with a new factory on more than 600 acres, but not in New York state, the Albany Times Union reported at the beginning of July.
The gun manufacturer is expanding across the border into Pennsylvania, and in the process will be moving its headquarters out of the Empire State.
The reason, according to a corporate official, can be found in the swift passage last January of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE gun control law.
It wasn’t so much that the measure bans certain kinds of guns and magazines, the company said. Instead, it was the suddenness with which the law was passed—less than 24 hours after being released to the public—leaving Kahr’s executives to wonder what kind of unforeseen regulations or restrictions might lie ahead.
“One of our big concerns was, OK, the SAFE Act was passed in the middle of the night. You wake up the next morning and boom, that was it,” said Frank Harris, Kahr’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We just felt like, gee, if they can do this, what can they do next? “It’s not just the SAFE Act, but the uncertainty.” Harris said.
Kahr only employs about a dozen people in its Blauvelt, NY, headquarters.
But shifting its planned expansion, which could add between 80 and 100 jobs, appears to be a blow to Cuomo’s push to bring more jobs to the state.
The impending move marks the first time a gun manufacturer is actually leaving New York due to the SAFE Act.
Harris noted that Kahr hasn’t completed the purchase of land in an industrial park in Blooming Grove, PA.
That’s about a half-hour from the Port Jervis area on the New York side of the border, where the firm had originally planned to expand.
Kahr is checking to make sure the water and sewer lines and other infrastructure are ready before completing the purchase of 620 acres, the newspaper reported. “The preliminary results are all very favorable,” said John Steih, a Pike County lawyer representing the company.
Newspaper reports in Pike County indicate that Kahr executives already have purchased homes in the area.
Kahr referenced the impending move, which they hope to complete next year, on their website.
They have factories in Massachusetts and Minnesota, which they plan to keep operating.
Harris said that the SAFE Act was doubly surprising to people in the firearms world since it came up as industry leaders were at the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas.
Following passage, “We went over to Pennsylvania almost on a fluke,” he said. “We got a very positive response.” News of Kahr’s departure came as no surprise to Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. As the head of a group trying to keep manufacturing and other industries in upstate New York, Sampson says everchanging regulations are among the biggest challenges, along with New York’s top-of-the-heap property taxes and energy costs.
“The scenario that played out—we go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning (with new regulations)— is very common,” Sampson said, according to the Times-Union. “You can be highly taxed with low regulations and probably get away with it, but when you are highly taxed and highly regulated, it’s a disincentive.” Speaking of the SHOT Show, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which owns the world’s largest trade event, announced in July that it has a new management partner for the show.
“After an extensive national search involving the trade show industry’s top management companies,” NSSF said, it has selected ConvExx as its new SHOT Show management partner.
ConvExx, based in Las Vegas, replaces longtime NSSF partner Reed Exhibitions, beginning with the 2014 show.
ConvExx is privately held and has produced more than 200 shows and events, working with more than a million exhibitors and attendees. ConvExx produces the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, which at nearly 1 million net square feet and 135,000 attendees is ranked as the fourth-largest trade show in America by Trade Show Executive magazine. (The SHOT Show is ranked 16th).
NSSF has filed suit in federal court in the District of Connecticut alleging that Gov. Dannel Malloy and the leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly misused the so-called “emergency certification” exemption in order to bypass procedures and speedily pass strict gun-control regulations.
Further, the suit argues the enactment of the new law violated fundamental due-process rights guaranteed by both the Connecticut and United States constitutions. NSSF is asking the court to declare the law invalid and issue an injunction prohibiting its enforcement.
The Connecticut Law Tribune had recently published an editorial arguing the same points of the NSSF suit.
NSSF is withdrawing its support for federal legislation that would establish the Coltsville National Historical Park in Hartford, CT, citing recent passage of the state’s new gun control law.
In letters to the state’s congressional delegation and governor, Lawrence G.
Keane, the senior vice president and general counsel for NSSF, said the industry is “offended by the hypocrisy of our elected officials in Congress and the state government” to advocate for legislation paying homage to the firearms industry and the iconic Colt firearms factory while pursuing gun control legislation.
“As major contributors to the state’s economy, we find it unacceptable for lawmakers to propose banning our products and hindering our ability of Connecticut companies to grow their businesses, create more good-paying manufacturing jobs, and contribute hundreds of millions in taxes,” Keane wrote in the letters.
He called the state’s legislation “jobkilling” because it bans many of the most popular and commonly owned firearms that NSSF’s members manufacture.
Current and past delegation members have pushed for years for the National Historical Park designation at Coltsville. The area includes manufacturing facilities and employee housing that Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. began building in 1855, the Associated Press reported. Coltsville was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008, a step toward the national park designation.
US Rep. John Larson, a Democrat who represents Hartford and a chief proponent of the national historical park designation, said the location was and will remain the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, the site of precision manufacturing, assembly line production and interchangeable parts.