Busloads of employees from Colt Manufacturing and other gunmakers came to the state capitol today. And as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, they say an assault weapons ban would cost the state jobs. They came in buses, and they came with their bosses, who say they've all got a lot to be afraid of.
Colt makes and sells rifles that Governor Dannel Malloy wants to ban. And the company's brass fears that losing the modern sporting rifle in the state could devastate their local sales and their national brand. Mike Holmes is the head of the union that represents about 500 Colt workers. "We are committed to safer communities, and we believe that banning the products that we make will not make us safer." The workers then moved inside. Loi Tran works at Colt. Before that he worked at another manufacturer, before it shipped its jobs overseas.
"Everybody has a family. We didn't do nothing bad. We want to keep the jobs in Connecticut." He works at Colt not because he's a big gun guy. He works at Colt because Colt had a job when he didn't. "Colt they have an opening job. That's the reason. I'm there to make a quality job. I don't know nothing else, I just survive for my family."
Moe Lavoie is a Colt inspector. "I'm 60 years old, and for me to start over again is extremely difficult...It's a job, it's a good paying job, with good benefits. The kind of jobs we need to keep in this state." Lavoie says he's owned guns before but he doesn't now. "I do believe firmly in the Second Amendment. And I feel strongly for the families and everybody. Newtown was a tragedy. But taking our right to bear arms will not solve that."
Beth Bye is a state senator representing West Hartford, Colt's home. She says she understands the concern about jobs. But she says markets change and manufactures have to innovate. "The jobs can stay and we can make our streets safer." But at least for these Colt employees at the capitol, it's a message that's hard to hear.