Connecticut Gun Maker Headed to South Carolina

Jun 19, 2013

A Connecticut gun manufacturer is moving to South Carolina after the state legislature passed stricter gun control laws. Bristol's PTR Industries is the first gunmaker to formally announce a move.

For all the hype over Governor Rick Perry's Texas promotion this week, it was South Carolina that got the first nod from a Connecticut gunmaker. 

"PTR Industries will be relocating its entire facilities to Horry County, South Carolina, in the town of Ayner."

John McNamara is PTR's vice president of sales. The Bristol based company, which makes semi-automatic weapons, says it doesn't have a final timeline for making the move, but it will be as soon as possible. McNamara says it's not a decision they've taken lightly.

"We've always known that Connecticut is a difficult place to do business, but it's our home. You're not just moving a business, you're moving, you know, a majority of our 42 employees are coming with us, and that's a majority of their families are coming as well, and everyone had to make that decision. It was our entire staff coming together and deciding that this is the right move for our future."

PTR said two months ago that it had made the decision to launch a serious search for a new location because of Connecticut's strict new gun laws, passed in the wake of the Newtown shooting. Since then it's been courted by 41 states, before finally deciding on South Carolina. And PTR isn't the only Connecticut company considering the Palmetto State.

"I'm traveling there on Thursday. I will spend Thursday and Friday there, looking at some facilities and talking to some other business owners."

Mark Malkowski is the CEO of Stag Arms in New Britain. He hasn't finally decided whether to move out of Connecticut, but he says he's very tempted not least because of the reception he's had from other states looking for his business.

"The welcomeness that they show there to firearms manufacturers is like something I've never seen before. The idea of us being in their state is overwhelming for them, and here it feels like the door's wide open -- they're ready to get you a moving truck to get out of here."

Malkowski's suspicion that his views are at odds with many people in Connecticut seems to be confirmed by the results of a new Q poll from Quinnipiac University. 57 percent of those questioned support the state's gun legislation, and poll director Doug Schwartz says 27 percent even say the laws don't go far enough.

"First time we've asked that question about whether the state's done enough to prevent another mass shooting in a school, and the state, you're right, is fairly evenly divided, although they do generally support the stricter gun control laws. And I believe that's the highest marks that Governor Malloy gets, is on his handling of gun policy."

PTR will host a ribbon-cutting outside its new facility next Monday, to be attended by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The company has signed an economic development deal which shows that it has plans to expand. It's promised an eight million dollar investment and 145 employees from 2016 through 2025.