Subsidies to Gun Manufacturers

June 26, 2015

While the country mourns yet another mass-shooting, little attention is being paid to the fact that the companies producing the weapons are being subsidized by taxpayers. Since 2012 alone, over $86 million has flowed to gun manufacturers via state incentive programs, usually as part of an effort to get companies to move from one state to another.

Most of those subsidies came in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. When legislators in Connecticut and other northeastern states that are part of “Gun Valley” passed more restrictive gun laws, firearm makers let it be known they wanted to move to more friendly locales. Southern states with loose gun regulations launched a bidding war to lure the companies.

The biggest beneficiary of these auctions was Remington, which received $68.9 million to relocate a plant from New York to Alabama. Other big winners included Sturm, Ruger & Co., which received $9.4 million in subsidies to open a plant in North Carolina, and Italian-owned Beretta, whose path from Maryland to Tennessee was paved with $2.4 million.

These subsidy packages may have been unnecessary. If the main point of the moves was to escape from states seen as being unfriendly to guns, then the companies would presumably have ended up in those Southern states even without the financial inducements. Beretta’s press release following the legislation specifically cited Maryland’s new gun control legislation as the primary reason for its relocation.

Eliminating subsidies to manufacturers would by no means address all the social problems caused by the gun industry, but it would be a start.