BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) _ Less than a week after Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed gun restrictions into law in April, gun manufacturer PTR Industries said it intended to leave the state to avoid the damage it expected to be inflicted on its business.
On Wednesday, the rifle manufacturer kept its promise, announcing it will move to Aynor, S.C.
“One hundred percent of our product line is now illegal in Connecticut due to that law,” said John McNamara, the company’s vice president for sales.
He offered few details of the relocation, saying that a formal announcement and ribbon-cutting are scheduled for Monday at the new site. Most of the company’s 41 workers will relocate and the labor force is expected to expand to 100 within a year, McNamara said.
“It will be as fast a transition as we can without interrupting production,” he said.
Malloy and legislators negotiated for months to craft new gun restrictions following the killings of 20 children and six educators in Newtown last December. The legislation that emerged expanded the state’s ban on assault weapons, banned ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, broadened background checks and made other changes.
Executives at other gun manufacturers say they’ve been in touch with states seeking to lure the businesses from New England, which has had an arms manufacturing presence dating to the Revolutionary War.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a splashy visit to Connecticut on Monday, meeting with gun manufacturers and other businesses and talking up the Lone Star State. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard made a more low-key trip to Connecticut this week to drum up new business for his state.
Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy, said the governor has made job creation a top priority but in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings, ensuring public safety was critical.
“We’re out there every single day competing for jobs,” he said. “But on this particular issue the governor decided to prioritize public safety and the gun violence prevention law he signed will improve public safety.”
Bristol Mayor Art Ward told WTNH-TV that he recognizes the business issues confronting PTR. “We understand. We wish it wouldn’t happen,” he said.
McNamara said the gun issue was not the only draw, and that although he’s familiar with South Carolina from travels to meet customers, he expects the move from New England will not be without its problems.
“It will definitely take some adjustment,” he said.
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