The firearm and ammunition industry is doing quite well across the country although Connecticut’s gun business is not part of that growth, a new study shows.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual report on the economic impact of the firearm and ammunition industry shows Connecticut’s industry slowing and losing jobs while the rest of the nation is growing.
Among the findings are that, nationwide: the overall contribution to the economy increased from $49.3 billion to $51.3 billion in 2016; the industry generated $6.8 billion in business and excise taxes last year; and manufacturers, distributors and vendors of guns and ammunition employ over 141,000 people, with close to 160,000 additional jobs in supplier and ancillary industries.
More generally, the economic impact of the industry between 2008 and 2016 increased from $19.1 billion to $51.3 billion, a 168 percent hike.
“It really is unprecedented nationwide growth,” Jake McGuigan, senior director of state affairs for the NSSF, said Monday.
The number of firearm background checks initiated through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has soared from under 9 million in 2005 to over 27 million by 2016.
Although these figures don’t correspond exactly with the number of firearms sold (NICS checks are done for other reasons besides sales) but, because these checks are required before a firearm may be acquired legally from a licensed firearm dealer, they are a fairly reliable indicator of sales, McGuigan said.
At the same time, the number of National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms processed in applications by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has increased steadily each year, from 147,484 in 2005 to 1,426,211 in 2015, a close to 10-fold increase.
Another indicator of the strength of the Second Amendment community, the annual growth in the number of persons with concealed carry permits continues to set records, with 1.73 million new concealed handgun permits issued in 2015.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, this represents an increase of 215 percent since 2007 – even with an increasing number of states moving towards permitless carry laws.
However, the trends for the gun industry nationally haven’t carried over to Connecticut.
Connecticut had 2,126 people working directly for a firearm or ammunition manufacturer and 1,100 suppliers working in some aspect of the gun industry in 2016, according to the NSSF report. There are another 1,690 indirect jobs as a result of the industry. Collectively, the 4,916 employees tied to the industry generate about $1.245 billion in economic activity in Connecticut, according to the report.
But those numbers are significantly lower than before Dec. 14, 2012, when a 20-year-old gunman fatally shot 20 first graders, as well as six educators in Newtown.
In 2013, the NSSF said the gun industry in Connecticut was a $1.9 billion business, with more than 8,000 direct and indirect workers.
After the Sandy Hook massacre Connecticut lawmakers, at the urging of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, passed several gun control measures, including requiring background checks for private guns sales and an assault weapons ban that includes more than 100 firearm models. It also banned large capacity magazines.
“States that are friendlier to the industry and the 2nd Amendment, such as Texas, Florida and North Carolina have successfully lured gun business away from Connecticut,” McGuigan said.
McGuigan said the NSSF believes law-abiding gun owners unfairly became targets in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook shooting.
The industry lost about $700 million in economic output over last five years, according to NSSF’s numbers.
In-state wages are down 36 percent and the amount of state taxes paid is also down 37 percent, according to the NSSF.
A separate document provided by NSSF with the statistics about Connecticut’s gun industry is titled “The Malloy Economy: CT Closed for Business.”
Asked if Malloy’s recent announcement that he will not seek another term will revitalize gun business growth in the state, McGuigan said he doubted it.
“I just don’t think there is an appetite for gun friendly business growth in Connecticut” McGuigan said, stating the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings is, unfortunately, an issue that will continually dog law-abiding gun owners long after Malloy is out of office.
McGuigan added that gun owners continue to be a target in Connecticut, noting that one of the items in Malloy’s proposed budget is an increase in the state portion of the pistol permit fee from $70 to $300 and the initial 5-year pistol permit fee from $140 to $370.
“Quadrupling the permit fee. Outrageous,” McGuigan said.
There is some silver lining for the gun industry in the state, however.
West Hartford gunmaker Colt’s Manufacturing is getting $23 million in state support to expand operations at its West Hartford manufacturing facility.
Malloy and Colt CEO Dennis Veilleux announced on March 24 that Colt is buying its West Hartford armory on New Park Avenue and expanding operations. Colt currently employs about 600.
Officials said the state assistance will help fund Colt’s $13 million purchase of its manufacturing facility and land at 545-547 New Park Ave., adjacent to ALDI Market and BJ’s Wholesale.
The state will also be giving Colt a $10 million loan to add 100 jobs over the next five years.
“This means hundreds of good paying manufacturing jobs for the people of our state,” Malloy said in a press release. “Colt is an industry leader whose brand is recognized worldwide. The company was founded nearly two centuries ago here in Connecticut, and this planned expansion will ensure that they remain headquartered here.”