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State of the state: Up in arms


Colorado passed new gun control measures this legislative session, largely in response to the mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, Conn. In March, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed three laws limiting the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, limiting ammo magazines to 15 rounds and requiring universal buyer background checks.

But the regulations are more than some businesses can bear, having since announced plans to relocate their operations.

•      Firearms accessories manufacturer HiViz Shooting Systems was the first to make good on threats of exiting the state, with its announcement of plans to uproot its Fort Collins factory and set up shop an hour away in Laramie, Wyo. “Colorado is a beautiful state with great people, but we cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our customer base,” wrote HiViz President and CEO Philip Howe on the company’s Facebook page.

•      Erie-based Magpul Industries Corp. publicly decried it would have “no choice” but to leave Colorado if gun-control legislation went through in March. Colorado’s largest and most profitable high capacity ammunition magazine manufacturer received invitations immediately thereafter from representatives in Texas, West Virginia, Alabama and Alaska to enjoy their gun-friendly environments. While Magpul can continue to legally manufacture magazines in the state, starting July 1 it can no longer sell them here. In early May, the gun maker revealed that its sights and PMAG ammunition magazines, which hold 10 to 30 rounds, would be manufactured outside of Colorado for the first time. “We are actively moving forward with moving other items out,” the company reported on its Facebook page.

•      In a last-ditch effort to kill the bill in February, Alfred Manufacturing followed up on Magpul’s announcement. “We are a third-generation Colorado company that has been committed to this state since my grandfather founded the company in 1948,” said Greg Alfred, the company’s chief executive, in a letter presented on the House floor. “However, if House Bill 1224 passes, we will plain and simply have no choice but to relocate part or all of our operations to another state.” Alfred put the kibosh on expansion plans as a result of the gun legislation as well.

•      According to representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, hunting and fishing generates $1.8 billion annually for the state’s economy, supporting 21,000 jobs. But now, guided hunting tour businesses – such as Fort Collins-based Atkinson Expeditions – are concerned. Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said it’s hard to predict the strength of the boycott and resulting economic impact since the big-game season doesn’t start until the fall.

•              The Outdoor Channel is pulling production from four popular hunting and shooting programs in Colorado. Michael Bane, executive producer for four hunting-related shows, estimated the channel’s departure will cost the state nearly $1 million in 2013.

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Nora Caley

Nora Caley is a freelance writer specializing in business and food topics.

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