By Mary Orndorff Troyan
Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A New York firearms company should move to South Carolina because the Southern state is more sympathetic to gun rights, according to a South Carolina congressman.
Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan is urging the parent company of Remington Arms to move its Ilion, N.Y., plant to South Carolina to avoid "enemies" of the Second Amendment.
"In South Carolina, we believe in the right to keep and bear arms," Duncan wrote to the chief executive officer of the Freedom Group, a North Carolina company with firearms divisions in 14 states and more than 3,000 employees.
Duncan was reacting to the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, a New York state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 16.
The law includes a stricter ban on assault weapons, bans magazines that hold more than seven rounds and expands requirements for background checks.
Cuomo says the measure, the first one passed anywhere in the country in response to the Dec. 14 shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is the toughest gun law in the nation.
"At a time when our government is consistently thwarting the ability of individuals to own businesses, voluntarily trade goods and services, and grow our economy, South Carolina is committed to writing a different story," Duncan said in his letter.
He said he's also encouraging South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to contact gun-manufacturing facilities in other states where gun control legislation is likely.
But dislodging Remington from New York may be an uphill battle. The company's history there goes back nearly two centuries, according to its website.
And the Republican congressman who represents Ilion says he'll fight to keep the Remington plant where it is. The plant employs more than 1,000 people.
"Generations of expertise is in the DNA of all those who work for Remington and live in upstate New York," Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., said Tuesday. "The Ilion plant remains highly competitive and its workers and the community are committed to the success of Remington. I look forward to working with New York state leaders to see that Remington stays here for generations to come and thrives right where it began almost 200 years ago."
One of the guns made at the Ilion plant is the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, the same type of gun used in the Newtown shooting. The semi-automatic rifle is banned under New York's new law.
Efforts to reach Freedom Group officials on Tuesday were not successful.
Last spring, the company did discuss leaving New York if the state required manufacturers to mark bullet casings with unique identifying information. It was not included in the final version of the law.
Duncan's overture to Remington is not the first. Local legislators from Michigan and Oklahoma also have courted the company.