Georgia’s new Governor, Brian Kemp, may want to send New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a thank you note and a bushel basket of peaches.
That’s because another New York-based, firearms-related business has made the decision to expand its operations not in the Empire State with its highly restrictive gun control laws, but in this case in Georgia with its far friendlier business and political climate.
Check-Mate Industries, based in West Babylon, N.Y., makes handgun and rifle magazines, among other firearms-related equipment as well as life-saving devices for the medical industry. The company is an original equipment manufacturer for firearms makers and the U.S. military.
The diversified company describes its offerings this way, “Check-Mate Industries’ products are 100 percent designed, developed and manufactured in the United States. Since 1972, the company has operated as a tool & die, stampings and assemblies manufacturer.”
Now, much of that production will take place in Thomasville, Georgia.
Remember The SAFE Act
In New York, Cuomo led the effort to outlaw standard-capacity magazines. In hurry-up lawmaking in Albany in early 2013 to pass his so-called SAFE Act, it was mandated that magazines could henceforth hold only seven rounds. Since magazines manufactured in that capacity are rare, to say the least, it was then decided that residents could own magazines capable of holding a maximum of 10 rounds, but they could no longer load them to full capacity. Larger capacity magazines were outlawed. Owning one of those could earn you jail time, although Niagara, Chautauqua and Erie County prosecutors now say they will not enforce that portion of the state statute.
The SAFE Act also broadened the state’s definition of “assault rifle,” to include firearms with any “military-style” feature including telescoping stocks and flash suppressors. It also required every single modern sporting rifle to be registered with the state, be sold or moved out of state.
Others Went Before
Check-Mate is not the first New York-based firearms business that chose to expand someplace other than their home state. About a year ago, Yonkers-based Kimber Manufacturing, best known for its 1911-style pistols and classic sporting rifles, announced an expansion in Troy, Alabama, where it doubled production capacity. Remington Arms Company made the decision in 2014 to move production from its historic Ilion, N.Y. facility to a new factory in Huntsville, Ala.
A move south is not necessarily the only more gun-friendly direction for a company to travel. Citing SAFE Act passage, Kahr Arms moved its headquarters from New York to Pike County, Penn. and subsequently opened an adjacent factory.
The Check-Mate move to Georgia will bring a $16 million investment and create 230 jobs. Annual payroll for jobs ranging from administrative support to skilled machinists and tool and die makers is estimated to be $7.4 million.
A Tale Of Two Capitals
The difference in state capitals, government policies and political leadership could not be more striking.
Even as Cuomo and his political allies in Albany keep finding new ways to pressure gun manufacturers, he has also vilified the NRA and expanded his assault on the Second Amendment, as Frank Miniter detailed last month.
Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, on the other hand, welcomed firearms manufacturers to Atlanta to speak with the state legislature about their concerns. On hand for one session were representatives from Glock, Daniel Defense, Honor Defense and Trulock Chokes, among others. Gov. Deal also announced last year that Taurus USA was breaking ground on a $22.5 million, 200,000 square-foot production facility bringing 300 jobs to the community of Bainbridge. Current Gov. Brian Kemp proudly campaigned and won election to succeed Gov. Deal on his defense of Georgians’ right to keep and bear arms.
The scenario will play out again. The management of a company in the firearms business assesses the political environment and listens to the overblown rhetoric of anti-gun politicians who ignore their economic contribution to community and state. They may get a call from economic development officials in a state that they know will value their business and that will respect the Second Amendment rights of their customers. That company makes an assessment based on its own circumstances. Often, that calculus will result in a decision to move.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.