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The debate over Colorado's gun laws continues, as Magpul Industries followed through with a threat to leave Colorado.

Magpul follows through on threat: jobs moving to Wyoming and Texas

Magpul IndustriesAmmunition magazine manufacturer Magpul Industries followed through with a threat to leave Colorado after state passage of a law banning weapons magazines with more than 15 rounds, announcing a move of operations to Wyoming and Texas.

The Erie-based firm, which employs roughly 200 people, will maintain a small Colorado presence while moving the majority of manufacturing jobs to Cheyenne and the executive headquarters to an as-yet-finalized location in north-central Texas. About 92 percent of the jobs will be moved; Colorado employees, interestingly, are not being asked to move to Cheyenne.

Republican lawmakers seized upon the move as an example of The magazine ban did not garner one Republican vote in the House or Senate, and now as a result of this one-sided, Democrat-sponsored law, more than 200 people will lose their jobs and their ability to provide for their families,” said state Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) in a statement (predictably enough; Saine was a strong opponent of the. “[T]his move will cost the state of Colorado over $80 million a year in revenue.” (Editor’s note: No, we can’t verify this number as being accurate.) Besides the loss of jobs, there will be some ripple effects extending to suppliers and distributors staying behind in Colorado.

The firm’s roots are in the design, manufacturing and distribution of accessories for AR-15 and M16 rifles (including the magazine banned under Colorado law), but the firm has branched out into other products, including iPhone cases.

Here’s the press release from Magpul:

Magpul Industries announced today that it is relocating its operations to Wyoming and Texas.

The company is relocating manufacturing, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Magpul is leasing a 58,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility during the construction of a 100,000 square foot build-to-suit facility in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. The Wyoming relocation is being completed with support from Governor Matt Mead, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS.

Magpul is moving its corporate headquarters to Texas. Three North Central Texas sites are under final consideration, and the transition to the Texas headquarters will begin as soon as the facility is selected. The Texas relocation is being accomplished with support from Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

“Magpul made the decision to relocate in March 2013 and has proceeded on an aggressive but deliberate path,” says Doug Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Magpul Industries. “These dual moves will be carried out in a manner that ensures our operations and supply chain will not be interrupted and our loyal customers will not be affected.”

The company began a nationwide search for a new base of operations after legislation was enacted in Colorado that dramatically limits the sale of firearms accessories – the core of Magpul’s business. Magpul plans on initially transitioning 92% of its current workforce outside of Colorado within 12-16 months and will maintain only limited operations in Colorado.

“Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” says Richard Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer for Magpul Industries. “This relocation will also improve business operations and logistics as we utilize the strengths of Texas and Wyoming in our expansion.”

Though there’s lots of talk about individual liberties and personal responsibility here — picked up by the right-wing press — it’s easy to miss some other facts in this issue, including the fact that Magpul was already negotiating to move out of Colorado before the state passed restrictions on magazines. Also, there’s certainly an economic aspect here: Wyoming officials and Magpul are negotiating some $13 million in state loans and grants related to the move.

And, of course, there are larger issues at play here. First and foremost is the rural/urban split playing out in Colorado and the rest of the New West: the struggle over gun laws highlighted efforts by Democratic lawmakers from urban and suburban areas to put restrictions on the free flow of guns versus opposition from more Libertarian-centered Republican lawmakers who called any effort to control firearms an infringement of the Second Amendment. Besides banning higher-capacity magazines, the Colorado laws passed in 2013 extended background checks to private sales and put the price of background checks onto buyers. A lawsuit challenging the laws is being heard in federal court. But that continuing split between rural and urban, old and new, will certainly be played out continually in the next decade.

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