During the 2013 debate over Colorado’s anti-gun proposals, which included a ban on standard-capacity magazines, Colorado-based Magpul threatened to relocate, and other Colorado injection molding companies realized that they’d have to follow their largest customer, at least in part. We covered this debate extensively.
The other molders had once had customers like OtterBox, a maker of phone cases, but OtterBox and its imitators relocated production to China, leaving the entire Front Range injection-molding industry hanging by the thin thread of Magpul contracts.
Now, four years later, it’s time to assess the economic cost of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s virtue-signaling (and positioning for a stillborn 2016 Presidential run). And Colorado politicians were grieved to find that, not only has Magpul relocated its manufacturing and HQ to Wyoming and Texas, but it’s now landed a contract to make magazines for the USMC.
In 2013, when Democrats controlled the state House, Senate and governor’s office, Colorado passed a 15-round limit as a measure to curb mass shootings, particularly in the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater assault that left 12 people dead and more than 70 wounded. Among James Holmes’ weapons was a semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine.
The political and legal fallout came swiftly. Gun rights supporters recalled two legislators and another resigned.
By resigning, she mooted the recall, and let Hickenlooper appoint another anti-gun extremist, which he did.
State sheriffs sued in vain to block the law. The economic cost is still adding up.
Magpul moved its production, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne and its headquarters to Texas last year. Besides principle, the move was fueled by cash—the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board ponied up $8.3 million
At the time the deal closed in September 2014, the Wyoming Business Council said Magpul would pay back about $3.7 million, but Laramie County, Wyo., stood to gain another $14.3 million in taxes, income off leases and other benefits from growing its workforce.
Hickenlooper’s Folly, a punitive strike on Colorado gun owners rather than targeting the state’s plentiful criminals, keeps paying dividends… for other states. One of the things Hickenlooper accomplished was throwing the state Senate to his opposition, an opposition embittered by the anti-gun laws and their consequences:
Frustration was in the voice of Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham Tuesday.
“My take is there is no big surprise here,” said the Republican leader from Canon City. “You tell a company they can’t sell a product in your state, when it’s a good product and a popular product. They move across the state line, they get a lot of support and they get a big contract. We lost not only the jobs they had when they were here, we lost the jobs they’ve grown into since and we’re losing all the jobs they’re going to grow into in future years with this contract.”
It’s actually worse than than, Kev. It wasn’t just Magpul that got on the bus to Texas and Wyoming. Colorado also lost a bunch of out-of-state hunters and fishermen. They also lost Michael Bane’s TV productions — probably small money as politicians reckon money — after all, politicians all seem to retire to houses made of gold bars. But he’s influential in the sporting world, and he used to be a walking, talking, tv-casting advertisement for Colorado outdoor sports.
Can you think of an animal you can hunt in anti-gun Colorado that you can’t hunt in pro-gun Wyoming? We can’t. Maybe Michael can.
How many jobs are we talking about?
Magpul took about 100 employees out of Colorado in early 2015. When the gun law was passed in 2013, it had about 200 workers in a 100,000-square-foot in Erie. The payroll has since grown to 380 and added a second shift in 185,000-square-foot facility in Cheyenne.
Got that? 380 workers in Laramie County are now working two shifts to make magazines and other products, and the company’s hiring. Meanwhile its Colorado headcount went from 200 to 100 (2015) to 0 (2016). Colorado not only lost the 200 jobs, but the 180 gained so far in Cheyenne, and the jobs gained in Texas as well.
And that’s not counting the rest of the Colorado injection molders, several of whom are supposed to have set up in and around Cheyenne.
And that’s not counting the cost of reintegrating laid-off Coloradans. By early 2014, less than a quarter of Magpul’s Cheyenne workforce had been with the company in Colorado — just a couple dozen people. That suggests around 150-180 of the Colorado workers got the chop in situ. Thank you, Governor Hickenlooper.
State Senate President Grantham notes that the Marine switchover increases the odds that the other services, too, will adopt Magpul magazines. He’s missing something, though: the armed services are not the major buyer of standard rifle magazines. With some two million AR-15 type rifles selling every year, civilian demand for these basic accessories far outstrips military demand; and Magpul’s regular product improvement schedule lets them resell new product to already satisfied customers, with none of the politics and bureaucratic tomfoolery of military contracts.