Gun rights groups converge on the Connecticut State Capitol

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Prominent gun rights groups and their supporters are convening at the Connecticut State Capitol Monday to protest new proposed gun-control measures and to remind lawmakers of the long history and economic importance of the state’s storied firearm industry.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is joining with the National Rifle Association, the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, and the  Connecticut Citizens Defense League to hold a “Lobby Day” Monday at the second floor atrium of the Connecticut state capitol’s Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The 10 a.m. event, replete with a complimentary shuttle service and transportation volunteers in orange hats, aims to protect the Connecticut gun industry from legislative efforts that could cause thousands of layoffs in the state.

The pro-gun groups are “helping individual citizens to find their legislators’ office and setting up meetings with legislators. Average citizens are taking time off work to drive in to Hartford because they’re concerned about this issue,” NSSF senior vice president Larry Keane told the Daily Caller.

Keane does not expect too much resistance to his group’s efforts, but conceded, “I’m sure there will be legislators who are hardcore anti-gun who will not be receptive to this information we’re giving them.”

Last week, Democrats on a gun control task force in the state legislature proposed banning modern sporting rifles by July 1 and confiscating magazines over 10 rounds by October 1. Further legislative committee hearings are scheduled this week to discuss the proposals.

An assault-weapons ban would cause approximately 1,700 job losses in Connecticut alone, according to the NSSF.

Approximately 2,900 Connecticut residents work for gun makers, while another 4,400 work for companies that would also be affected by the ban, according to the NSSF.

National gun control advocates have targeted Connecticut, with three Connecticut-based chapters of the national group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – which was created one day after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting – leading a 5,500-head “March for Change” protest in Hartford last month.

The group, which will not disclose details about its donations, is targeting lawmakers in at least 14 states. The group’s stated policy goals mirror those currently proposed by Connecticut Democratic lawmakers.

In an attempt to fight back, the NSSF last week rolled out a $50,000 ad buy for television commercials in targeted Connecticut regions, including the cities of New Britain and Bristol, opposing the ban.

The ads, entitled “Don’t Lose Us in the Discussion,” feature testimonials from employees at Connecticut gun manufacturers Colt’s Manufacturing Company, Stag Arms, and O.F. Mossberg & Sons. The ads will run for two weeks, and will attempt to demonstrate to the public and to state lawmakers the long and proud history of the firearms industry in Connecticut.

“Colt Manufacturing has been here for 175 years,” according to the Colt ad, which spotlights a 37-year Colt employee and another employee who expresses pride that he can build firearms for the U.S. Marine Corps.

“These companies are being aggressively recruited by other states to bring their jobs with them. In those other states, their jobs and their contributions to the economy are valued and respected,” Keane told TheDC. “We’ve seen Remington leave the state. We’ve seen Winchester leave the state. The current CEO of Colt Manufacturing was literally the last person out of the factory, the one turning out the light, at Winchester when they closed it down.”

The Colt Armory in Hartford, a National Historic Landmark built by Samuel Colt in 1855, garnered a bit of characteristically witty praise from Hartford-based writer Mark Twain, upon a visit to the plant in 1868.

“It comprises a great range of tall brick buildings, and on every floor is a dense wilderness of strange iron machines … a tangled forest of rods, bars, pulleys, wheels, and all the imaginable and unimaginable forms of mechanism,” Twain said. “It must have required more brains to invent all those things than would serve to stock 50 Senates like ours.”

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