You may have known UltiMak, CCI, and Speer made their home within a few miles of my Idaho home (UltiMak is nearly within slingshot range). Just a few miles from Boomershoot in Orofino you will find Nightforce. Nearly 300 miles on down the road you will find Gemtech but still in the state of Southern Idaho (it’s a north Idaho joke).
It turns out the state of Idaho is actively pursuing gun manufactures:
When it comes to guns, Idaho economic development officials are starting to see green.
The Gem State, eager to attract new jobs and industry, is positioning itself as the best possible home for the nation’s 200 small arms manufacturers – companies worth a collective $2 billion per year but unwelcome in many of the states that have long been their home.
It appears that the attraction is mutual.
“Like any smart business, gun manufacturers are looking for places that facilitate low operational costs, such as business taxes, utility costs and a good place for employees to live,” said Richard Schelowitz, an analyst for AFC, which monitors the firearms industry.
“But unlike some businesses, this industry is also growing weary of regulations and public perceptions that might make it more difficult – and therefore more costly – to do business.”
Almost by accident, Idaho has created a business environment that gives gun makers exactly the tax and regulatory climate they like.
During the past decade, several small gun manufacturers have relocated to Idaho. More may be on the way.
In recent weeks, at least one supplier of parts for internationally known gun manufacturer Armalite visited Southern Idaho to survey potential manufacturing sites.
Within the past year, a small company that makes silencers for law enforcement and some federal agencies relocated from Alabama to a nondescript building near Twin Falls. When contacted for this article, the owner of the firm asked that the location of the company – even its name – remain confidential because some of its contracts are classified secret.
Idaho was an attraction, the owner said, because of lower operating costs, favorable taxes and a culture that actively embraces firearm posession as one of the most important civil rights.
During the early 1990s, when almost half of the states were discussing bills that would tighten gun control laws. Idaho turned the other way. The state Constitution was amended to specifically protect gun owners and manufacturers from licensing and registration.
While other states tried to follow suit, Idaho went one step further by making itself the only state where firearm sales cannot be subject to any special tax – a hedge against efforts to use of prohibitive taxes to discourage gun ownership.
On the federal level, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, a director of the National Rifle Association, introduced the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gunmakers from lawsuits filed by people injured in shootings.
Idaho didn’t wait for the federal law – it became one of the first states to enact a comparable statute, in 2005.
Traditionally the nickname for Idaho has been the Gem State. I feel a great deal of pride that it may also becoming the Gun State. Let’s hope the State motto, Esto Perpetua, is accurate.