Following the introduction of new gun restrictions in Connecticut, South Dakota officials are trying to lure that state's gun manufacturers to the Rushmore state.
On Monday, Gov. Dennis Daugaard flew to Connecticut to meet with the representatives of Stag Firearms and Mossberg & Sons where he pitched South Dakota as a haven for an industry that has faced increasing scrutiny after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December. Today, Daugaard will meet with representatives of Colt Firearms.
Speaking over the phone on Monday, Daugaard said Stag Firearms and Mossberg & Son expressed a keen interest in expanding outside of Connecticut.
"Business is busy. They have more demand than they can meet right now, so they are looking to grow and Connecticut is a hard state to do any kind of manufacturing because their regulatory environment is burdensome and their tax environment is burdensome," he said.
Legislation enacted in April adds more than 100 firearms to Connecticut's assault weapons ban and bans the sale of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
Daugaard said that South Dakota not only offers a better business environment, but its history and culture made it a perfect fit for gun manufacturers.
"Because of our hunting tradition, there's a pretty wide acceptance of firearms in South Dakota," he said. "It's a normal thing for South Dakotans to have firearms in their homes."
But Daugaard's office faces some stiff competition in its bid to attract gunmakers. By coincidence, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was also visiting Connecticut on Monday, pitching his state as the ideal home for the industry.
Daugaard said he was surprised to arrive at Mossberg & Sons just as Perry was leaving.
"We shook hands and said, 'hello'," Daugaard said. "And he said, 'please leave some business for Texas when you're done'."
Perry, meanwhile, made a similar pitch to the gun manufacturers.
"Are your tax policies really in the best interest of your job creators?" he asked. "Is your regulatory climate one of which (that) really allows your citizens to be able to enjoy the freedoms that they can have or they should have or that they think they should have or are they going to relocate somewhere?"
But while courting the gun industry is an important part of Daugaard's trip, he said it wasn't its prime purpose. Daugaard said the trip was organized primarily so he could make a personal pitch to site selector firms in New York. Site selectors are consultancy firms that help businesses decide on the best place for a company to move or expand its business.
Daugaard is scheduled to meet today with five site selection companies in a two-hour luncheon. His office decided to visit the Connecticut gunmakers on Monday and today since they were in the area. Daugaard also had dinner on Monday night with a group of financial firms that had expressed interest in relocating to South Dakota.
Daugaard said he couldn't reveal which financial firms he was talking to because, unlike the gun companies, he didn't have permission to release their names.