Guns and Gear

Obama to praise Colorado’s new gun laws as gun businesses head for the door

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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When President Barack Obama comes to Colorado on Wednesday to praise state lawmakers for taking a tough stance on gun control — an example that he hopes Congress will follow — it will be to a backdrop of a changing economic landscape brought on by the new laws.

Because of strict new gun bills signed recently by Gov. John Hickenlooper that ban high-capacity magazines and require universal background checks on gun transfers, hunting groups are organizing boycotts, shooting competitions are being canceled and more and more businesses that serve the gun industry are announcing that they’re taking their companies — and the jobs they provide — to more Second Amendment-friendly locales.

On Monday, organizers for the Rocky Mountain Western States Regional IDPA Championship shooting competition canceled their July 4-6 event because the new laws will go into effect on July 1. Organizers expected 300 out-of-state shooters to come to Montrose for the weekend.

“With these new Colorado laws going into effect July 1, and based on the ambiguous way in which they were written, we have decided to cancel the Rocky Mountain Western States Regional IDPA Championship,” said event organizer Walt Proulx in a press release.

This is the second competition to cancel. Earlier, the 2013 Ruger Rimfire Challenge World Championship, to be held in Byers, Colo. July 19-21, was canceled and has yet to be rescheduled “outside of Colorado,” according to the Ruger website.

Hunters may also make good on their threat to avoid the state.

“There’s a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them,” Chris Jurney, vice president of the Colorado Outfitters Association, told the AP. “That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we’re going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation.”

Hunting is big business in Colorado. Non-resident hunters accounted for $195 million in retails sales in Colorado in 2011, according to research by the National Shooting Sports Association. Colorado is the third most popular hunting destination for out-of-state hunters, behind only South Dakota and Wisconsin.

While the impact of a potential hunting boycott has yet to be measured, impacts from losing jobs and businesses will likely be felt sooner.

Magpul Industries, which makes the sorts of magazines that will become illegal as of July 1, is making good on its promise to relocate.

“Our transition to a new home will occur in a phased and orderly a manner to allow us to continue to serve our customers during the move, as well as to allow an orderly transition for affected employees,” the company wrote on its Facebook page. “We are actively working on those plans.”

Magpul has not said where it is moving, but noted in an earlier post that it could have operations in several states.

“We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected,” the company wrote.

Magpul employs 200 people and accounts for $85 million to the Colorado economy.

Other companies are following Magpul’s lead. Lawrence Tool & Molding, which makes parts used by Magpul, said it will follow the company out of state so that it can continue to be a supplier. That company employs 82 people.

Five-person company Carbon Arms also told the Denver Post that they would consider moving.

Fort Collins-based HiViz Shooting Systems, which makes rifle and handgun sights and other products, became the latest gun-parts manufacturer to announce that it’s folding up its tents. In a statement, the company said that moving out of Colorado was “in the best interests of our company and our customers.”

“We cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our customer base,” said president and CEO Phillip Howe.

Obama will use his appearance in Denver to “continue to ask the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence,” deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told Politico.

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