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Missouri Targets Gun Manufacturers with Economic Incentives

Meghan Boggess
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JEFFERSON CITY (KMOX) - Several firearm manufacturers have threatened to leave states passing stricter gun regulations, prompting Missouri lawmakers to respond with tax incentives in an effort to draw these businesses to the state and boost Missouri’s economy.

In the wake of stricter gun regulations in Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado and New York, gun manufacturers in those states have threatened to take their business elsewhere, and their threats have been met with economic incentives and regulatory support in states such as Texas, South Carolina and Missouri.

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, proposed a tax credit for firearm manufacturing companies Tuesday. The tax credit would be offered to gun manufacturers moving to or expanding in Missouri so long as the company met wage requirements after one year.

White said a lack of progress on measures that Republicans have been promoting as “pro-business,” such as “right-to-work” legislation, led him to offer these companies tax credit.

“We have lots of states that have either no corporate tax … or have labor relations much more conducive to manufacturing and business than we do,” White said. “How are we going to get them to come to Missouri?”

White’s proposal would not offer any credit until after the company proved to be an economic boon for the state by offering wages at or above 120% of the county average wage. Additionally, White capped annual tax credits at $3 million for six years.

The measure was not backed by any estimation of revenue or jobs that would be brought in, as none of the companies threatening to leave their current state have said they will move to Missouri. Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis County, said she did not agree with helping these companies when there was no economic guarantee for Missouri.

“The idea that we would, again, give more of our revenue to a hypothetical industry who wanted to leave another state, I find it … amusing, but it’s also not fact-based and it does nothing to help our job situation,” Newman said, calling it, “another NRA mandate.”

Another representative had already begun reaching out to manufacturing companies. Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, sent letters to several of the companies, offering them reasons to move their business to Missouri.

“You can be opposed to guns, but the gun industry’s not going anywhere. It gives us an opportunity … to bring some really good manufacturing jobs to the state,” Rowden said.

In the letters, Rowden said Missouri would defend Second Amendment rights. He also described Missouri as having a friendly economic climate, a central location and a thriving manufacturing industry.

Despite other states’ move to stricter gun regulations, both White and Rowden maintain that there is no such threat to the firearm manufacturing industry in Missouri, as the majority of firearm bills this session have been aimed at strengthening Second Amendment rights, rather than restricting them.

Neither does White see any future federal regulations as a threat to Missouri’s firearm industry.

“I don’t foresee us throwing federal agents in jail, but I think we in Missouri have a right to control our own firearms industry,” White said.

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