Colt Manufacturing is considering leaving the state of Connecticut after being thrust into the limelight in the national debate over gun control and the Second Amendment.
Dennis Veilleux, president and CEO of Colt, said that the pro-gun control climate that has emerged from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has made it difficult to do business in the state of Connecticut, and that the company doesn’t feel welcome despite doing business there for 175 years.
Particularly, proposed legislation by Governor Dannel Malloy has made Colt feel estranged from Connecticut. Such legislation includes a new gun offender registry, an expanded assault weapons ban, ammunition restrictions, and a ban on the purchase of handguns in bulk.
“At some point, if you can’t sell your products … then you can’t run your business,” Veilleux told Fox News. “You need customers to buy your products to stay in business.”
Colt employs roughly 700 workers in Connecticut, and Veilleux wrote in a recent op-ed that he has only considered pulling operations in the state. There are no “definite plans” to do so, he wrote, but if Malloy’s legislation targeting AR-15 rifles goes through, leaving will be a more realistic option, The AR-15 is the centerpiece of Colt’s business.
If Colt does leave, it’s not without options. Several red state governors have approached Veilleux to relocate, envious of the estimated $1.7 billion in annual contribution to Connecticut’s economy.
But Veilleux is hesitant to abandon his Connecticut workers.
“The employees are what the company is,” he said. “It’s not a building with a bunch of machines in it. The company is the employees. They’re proud of what they do, they represent their community – and I would say a lot more than some of the legislators do. They’re real people.”
Malloy’s reps confirmed that they don’t want any manufacturers to leave the state, emphasizing the “need to move ahead with common sense gun violence prevention legislation that will improve public safety.”
But anti-gun groups seem to want increased gun control at any cost. Ron Pinciaro, the executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, defended Malloy’s legislative proposals.
“We feel that because of the enormity of the situation that happened on Dec. 14, that if we just put some Band-Aids on things, it’s really not going to be enough,” he said.