Remington CEO: SAFE Act Impacted Decision To Expand In Alabama

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Here is the expanded version of the second item from my "Albany Insider" column from Monday's editions:

Remington Arms has confirmed what many already long suspected — New York’s tough gun control laws played a role in the upstate gun manufacturer’s decision to expand outside the state.

Remington, which has operated in New York State since 1816, shifted 100 jobs down south in August. Another 126 people were laid off last week as a result of a decline in gun sales.

The company says one reason behind its decision to open a new plant in Alabama rather than expand in New York was “state policies affecting use of our products,” Remington Outdoor Company CEO George Kollitides wrote to some upstate officials Oct. 20.

The statement was taken by some as a direct shot at a tough gun control measure enacted by New York in early 2013 in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

Indeed, one part of the gun control measure, also known as the SAFE Act, banned AR-15 rifles in New York — the very gun Remington made at its plant in upstate Ilion.

Those assault guns will now be made in Alabama.

Kollitides also said workforce quality, business environment, tax and economic incentives, and existing infrastructure impacted the decision to open a plant in Alabama.

“What the letter is really saying to us is we need to take action as a state to solidify and recognize the businesses we already have here and make it hospitable for them to stay,” said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, a Republican who represents the upstate district that is home to Remington and who received the letter.

“I don’t think Remington was even given the courtesy of a phone call or a discussion when the whole (gun legislation) discussions were going on,” she added.

A Remington spokesman did not return calls for comment.

A Cuomo administration source denied that it played a role in Remington’s departure, saying the company “is consolidating from states all across the country.”

“The company has repeatedly stated that’s driven by national consumer trends,” the source said. “If anything, local politicians constantly playing politics only hurts."

New Yorker Against Gun Violence Executive Director Leah Gunn Barrett said she believes Remington’s decisions are based more on New York’s business climate than its gun control laws.

But regardless, she said, public safety should trump economic decisions.

Critics “love to use the New York SAFE Act as a whipping boy, but let’s face it, that law is keeping New Yorkers safe and keeping New York communities safe and our kids safe and guns out of the wrong hands, to me that’s more important,” she said.

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Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/remington-ceo-gun-law-impacted-alabama-expansion-decision-blog-entry-1.2013256

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