Hugh McQuaid Photo
Steven Lanza (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Connecticut’s recently-enacted gun restrictions are unlikely to cause the state to shed a significant number of jobs or harm the state’s economy, according to the the University of Connecticut’s quarterly economic analysis.

Economists at UConn released their quarterly “Connecticut Economy” report Thursday at the Connecticut Education Association’s Hartford offices.

Steven P. Lanza, executive editor of the report, said his research this quarter was informed by the impact of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and recent statements made by some of Connecticut’s firearm manufacturers who have suggested they would leave the state in response to new gun control regulations.

Lanza said he did not find evidence to suggest that firearms manufacturers are part of an industry that is sensitive to local policy as far as gun control is concerned.

“There does not seem to be any kind of connection between gun laws and firearm establishments across states,” Lanza said.

Lanza said the two most important factors in the location of firearm manufacturers seem to be whether the area has a history of hosting gun makers and whether the area also has other, similar types of manufacturing going on.

“Gun makers are part of a broader fabricated metal sector of the economy and so they probably use similar inputs from similar suppliers and the workforce that they need, needs to be similarly skilled,” he said.

Earlier this year, Connecticut’s gun manufacturers opposed the General Assembly’s decision to expand the number of weapons prohibited under the state’s assault weapons ban and tightened other gun-related regulations. In April, PTR, a firearms manufacturer in Bristol, announced on its website it planned to leave the state and encouraged other manufacturers to leave in response to the legislation.

Lanza acknowledged individual manufacturers can leave in response to laws if they chose to, but said that did not seem to be a trend in the industry.

“That’s not to say that an individual gun maker or an individual producer of any kind might not leave a state in protest about something, but as we look at across states over time we don’t find any significant relationship between these laws and the change in establishment,” he said.

There is a long history of gun manufacturers in Connecticut. The state is home to Colt Firearms, Sturm & Ruger, and Stag Arms. Lanza said the firearms industry has a large presence in a “psychic sense” for the state. But he said gun manufacturers make up a relatively small portion of the economy.

“If they all up and left overnight, you’d lose a couple thousand jobs out of the economy. Hate to see that happen but very often some of these labor numbers that come out show us losing or gaining numbers like that on a monthly basis,” he said.

Douglas Fisher, a senior vice president at property advice firm Goman + York, said the loss of those precision manufacturing jobs and the history of the companies would be a huge blow to Connecticut.

“It all started here. The entire origin of this was here and it would be a very sad chapter in our history if we watched them walk out the door,” he said.

Lanza said his research also suggested that the link between firearm deaths and the availability of guns is likely more modest than the studies often cited by gun control advocates suggest. He said his report only attempted to consider how gun deaths are impacted by changes in local laws, which can circumvented by “taking a short drive across the state border.”

Still, he said gun control laws do seem to save some lives without hurting the economy.

“The evidence suggests that gun laws likely save lives without costing jobs. They maybe don’t save the number of lives we think or hope, but there probably is that effect,” he said.

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