Malloy’s Team Meets Gun-Makers, Raising Hopes Of ‘Common Ground’

by Categorized: Jobs, Manufacturing, Politics Date:

The divide between Connecticut’s gun manufacturers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would seem too wide to bridge, but after a cordial meeting, both sides are showing some optimism.

The meeting happened Monday between Malloy’s policy staff, including Mike Lawlor, the administration’s criminal justice chief, and a group of executives and owners from Colt’s Manufacturing Co., O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Stag Arms and others.

By all accounts the 2-hour confab at the state Capitol, initiated by the governor’s staff, was friendly. Malloy himself — who wants to ban the extremely popular AR-15 class of rifles — was not there. He was at the National Governor’s Association in Washington, D.C.

To the firearms makers, most any ban by the state on currently legal equipment in the state where it’s made represents a move that would not improve public safety, but would cost jobs.  They prefer to see tighter background checks and other forms of access restrictions.

“We can find common ground by building on and improving those systems, like National Instant Criminal (NICS) background checks, that we know work,” said Dennis Veilleux, President and CEO of Colt’s Manufacturing Co.

He added, “As the birthplace and historical center of the modern firearms industry, what we do here will send a message to the rest of the country and Connecticut must set an example of thoughtful and balanced decision making.”

They’ve been through this before, several times in fact, since Connecticut adopted some of the nation’s strictest gun-control rules in 1993 — a precurser to the federal ban that was adopted in 1994 and ended in 2004.

Malloy’s surprise release Thursday of a gun-control plan that includes a virtual ban on civilian purchases of the AR-15 military-style rifle was a deep disappointment to the manufacturers. Also Monday, the group issued a 25-minute video through the National Shooting Sports Foundation, in which employees and executives defended their work and their livelihood.

“What kind of message does it send to my employees who are honest, law-abiding citizens, who can’t purchase the product in their own state? They can’t own their own product,” said Mark Malkowski, founder and president of Stag Arms in New Britain, which employs 200.

Even under the current law, there are versions of the AR-15 that are not legal in Connecticut and several other states. Malloy’s plan would tighten the rules considerably by allowing no military-style features on semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines — including the pistol grip that’s central to the AR-15.

“The governor hasn’t produced a fully written bill,” Lawlor said Tuesday. “At the discussion, a lot of points were raised. Some of them were valid.”

“They’re all thoughtful, reasonable people,” said Lawlor, who worked with several of the manufacturers — often as an adversary — in his years as co-chairman of the General Assembly’s judiciary committee.

“I was very pleased by the warm reception we got,” said Joe Bartozzi, vice president and general counsel at Mossberg.

By Tuesday, Bartozzi was in Washington, where he was a hot office guest of representatives from Georgia, Alabama and other states eager to end Mossberg’s 94-year history in and around New Haven.  Malkowski had also heard from three Southern states with offers even more enticing than usual, as they smell opportunity in Malloy’s hard-line proposal.

“I’m not itching to move but business is business,” said  Bartozzi, whose firm has 270 people in Connecticut, up by 100 in the last year or so, and a plant in Texas. “I hope Connecticut appreciates that we are a good citizen and a good employer.”

Based on this week’s meeting, we are at least at the cordial stage; in other words, it could be worse.




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10 thoughts on “Malloy’s Team Meets Gun-Makers, Raising Hopes Of ‘Common Ground’

  1. Peter

    What’s there to talk about, Malloy has already established his agenda and he is just pandering to keep jobs. If it’s not an outright ban, than any allowed ownership will be expensive and intrusive.

    1. CT2A

      What’s even more disingenuous is that Malloy’s Team would allow these gun companies to stay in the state and produce weapons that they want outlawed. So once they’re sold out of state, they’re no longer CT’s problem.

      If the companies leave, then the state loses a lot of money and a lot of jobs. Then we can be in even more debt and have an even higher unemployment rate. Isn’t that what Progressives want?

    2. Ian

      If there are Union members involved, I bet we see Malloy soften on the issue.

      After all, they seem to be ignoring the Mental Illness and Criminal possession portion of it and only focusing on the inanimate objects.

  2. RandyMarshCT

    Nice, thank you Dan Malloy for taking the time to hear out company owners who employ 2,900 CT citizens directly and 8,000 indirectly (CT companies that make magazines and other accessories for the gun companies) concerning one of the only booming industries in our state right now. Oh wait… Dan Malloy wasn’t even there. That’s because he doesn’t care what they had to say. He also doesn’t care that the #1 rifle in america, which is used in less than 1.4% of U.S. gun crimes, is predominantly produced in this state… or about the 1.8 Billion dollars of business per year it generates. (that 1.4% stat also includes every other ‘assault weapon’ in America along with the AR-15)

  3. Jim

    Malloy will say anything that this group wants then he’ll turn around and do his master’s bidding. Do you really trust Dannel Malloy? He stabbed the gun manufacturers in the heart on national TV. Do you really think Dannel will come through and risk his super-liberal status in the eyes of O-blame-a? Not a chance. Sorry to see the industry leave, but you should go because the Governor and Sen Blumenthal value their political standing more than your industry. It is a shame because you represent an age old tradition in Connecticut. Proud to have had you here, but you shouldn’t put up with the political aspirations of our Governor and Senators.

  4. Kim

    I’m glad to see gun owners and the gun industry standing up and fighting back, and being proud of what they do instead of skulking in the shadows and acting as if they should feel guilty about something. Perhaps this is the first stirrings of real honesty in this discussion instead of all the political posturing and pandering.

    Let’s be clear: the shameful liberal government response to Sandy Hook is all about how to make additional tax money and/or regulatory money to ‘enforce’ new laws – they could care less about personal safety. If personal safety were an issue, they’d prosecute offenders under existing laws; eliminate gun-free zones; and allow people to continue to exercise their second amendment rights.

    The libs like to say ‘if one life can be saved we owe it to the people to try’. The problem with this statement is that no one is producing or looking at the overwhelming data that shows how many lives ARE saved by RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERSHIP.

    The new reasoning should be: “If we can save lives by allowing people to exercise their rights under the second amendment as responsible gun owners, and by prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law those who act criminally or irresponsibly, we owe it to our forefathers, our citizens, our freedom and our country to try”.

  5. Disgusted former Democrat

    It’s not if these companies are leaving the state it’s when. The liberal wackos who think this is a great thing are actually happy that these companies are leaving. Talking points being one “casualty” nationally per Connecticut job. I am friends with a UConn Professor and have read this from him. Mississippi and Texas want these jobs badly. Not attending personally by Malloy was the coup d’grace. Sequestration will cost a Sub to EB, and the Obama Chorus blame that too on the GOP. The casino revenue has fallen, the Hartford lost money last year its awful. These are the worst economic times in Connecticut since the depression, our home values are plummeting. I predict we lose enough population in the next five years to lose another Congressional District.

    1. Nick

      As a former Democrat, you built this. Enjoy it now. Im already moving out, so to heck with CT. My only ties to CT will be my job in Stamford, my friends, and UConn basketball. This isnt the home I grew up in.

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