Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP, File
Weatherby is known for making quality rifles and shotguns. For years, it produced them and sold them from its headquarters in California, despite the state’s notorious anti-gun proclivities. It wasn’t the only company making guns in rabidly anti-gun states by any stretch.
Weatherby’s also not the only company to relocate because of that environment.
Now, it’s sitting in Sheridan, Wyoming where it got a warm welcome from the locals.
Located just west of Interstate 90, Weatherby announced its move from Paso Robles, California, to Wyoming in 2018. Since then it’s been a tense time for the company’s chief executive officer, Adam Weatherby.
“Lately I feel like I’ve been a wedding coordinator, you know, planning a party,” he joked after greeting visitors and posing for photos outside the expansive facility.
“We just make guns and sell them, so this is kind of new for us,” he said.
He spoke while standing between a row of 11 conservation group booths and local food trucks as a live band played in the driveway. Youngsters walked or stood in line with cardboard antlers crowning their heads.
The event is a culmination of the company’s nationwide search for a new headquarters and place to manufacture that began in 2014, narrowing it down to six states. After deciding on Sheridan, the company began hiring new employees. For 50 openings, Weatherby said 3,500 people applied.
Weatherby is known for making hunting rifles and shotguns, and the move puts the company in a place where a lot of its customers either are or would like to be for a time. Well, I would, anyway.
More importantly, the company’s now in a state that’s not likely to make it impossible for it to do business locally. That has to be a big thing.
I’d like to say that I don’t understand gun companies who stay in anti-gun states, but I do to some extent. Tradition is powerful. So is having roots in the community. I mean, I’m not a fan of my location, but my wife is hesitant to leave for that reason, so I understand it.
At the same time, there has to be a point when enough is enough. Weatherby hit that point and jumped the sinking ship that is California. The only surprising thing for most people is that it took that long.
With anti-gun lawmakers at the state level pushing more and more insane legislation, more and more gun companies are likely to begin looking for friendlier neighbors like Weatherby did. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll find them.
If enough of this happens, might there be enough of an economic impact to hurt anti-gun states? That remains to be seen. Despite all the talk on the powerful gun company lobby, most gun manufacturers seem to be fairly small operations. It’s unlikely anti-gun states would notice the difference.
However, the companies in question certainly would. They’d get to enjoy life in an area where their business isn’t treated like a pariah. Instead, they’re celebrated as symbols of freedom.
That should be enough reason to bail.