Rifle Maker Leaves CT After Newtown, But Bubble Bursts, Layoffs Follow


An attractive small brand in the lucrative U.S. gun industry, semi-automatic rifle maker PTR Industries announced its intention to leave Connecticut two years ago and was besieged by recruitment proposals from 44 states, including a personal appeal from then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, says USA Today. All of them sought to lure away the growing gun-maker after the Connecticut legislature responded to the Newtown school massacre by making it effectively illegal for PTR and some other rifle manufacturers to sell their products anywhere in the state. What followed for PTR almost as soon it reopened last year in gun-friendly rural South Carolina stands as a cautionary tale for the politically volatile industry where some of the biggest names in the business — Mossberg, Remington andBeretta — are plotting moves and expansions outside longtime bases throughout the northeast. Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation could not recall a similar period marked by so much displacement.

Gun enthusiasts had been emptying the shelves of dealers, fearing that even more restrictive federal gun laws would be next. As quickly as potential back orders for PTR rifles surged to nearly 100,000, the bubble burst. Proposed federal legislation to renew the controversial assault weapons ban failed, as did a prospective expansion of background checks for all gun buyers. The panic that had sustained record sales shifted from buyers to manufacturers who were left with hundreds of thousands of rifles in their inventories. Within six months of what was to be a move full of anticipation for increasing fortunes in the rich former cotton and tobacco fields of the South, the company was issuing layoff notices.

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