Lawmakers take aim at SAFE Act as gunmaker lays off 122

Published Mar 9, 2017 at 1:00pm

ILION — Gun manufacturer Remington Arms has laid off 122 workers at its flagship plant.

Slowing sales and a growing inventory are blamed for the workforce cut at Herkimer County’s largest employer, according to a statement from the company. Unlike layoffs that occurred several years ago, the latest cuts in Ilion are apparently not a result of work being moved to other Remington facilities.

The unionized Ilion employees are represented by United Mine Workers Local 717. Based in Madison. N.C., the privately owned company is a leading domestic producer of ammunition, shotguns and rifles.

State and federal representatives reacted to the news.

“My thoughts are with the workers and their families during this difficult time,” said Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-118, Newport. “I have spoken with company officials that have assured me that these layoffs are a result of market forces and do not represent any reconfiguration of production facilities at the plant.”

He then asserted that, “I cannot help but think that the anti-Second Amendment, anti-sportsmen and anti-business culture perpetuated by New York City progressives in state policy is making the atmosphere very difficult for this historic company.”

Assemblyman Brian D. Miller, R-101, New Hartford, also sees the state playing a role in the layoffs.

“It’s very troubling that 122 of our neighbors have lost their jobs due to poor economic policies pushed by Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo and Assembly Democrats as well as the SAFE Act,” he said.

Cuomo and the state Legislature in January 2013 enacted the SAFE Act after school shootings in Newtown, Conn. Cuomo and Democrats have championed the law as a way to crack down on illegal guns and add new registration requirement for gun owners.

Congresswoman Claudia L. Tenney, R-101, New Hartford, said, “Economic downturns in the firearms industry coupled with a decrease in sales have forced Remington to reduce staff to remain competitive.”

She too placed blame on the state for the situation.

“Failed economic and anti-Second Amendment policies in New York have continued to burden Remington’s Ilion facility, making it difficult for the plant to remain competitive,” said Tenney, who was a state Assembly member until her election to Congress last fall.

That said, the change from Democrat to a Republican in the White House may be at play in the layoffs. Now that a Republican endorsed by the National Rifle Association is president, sales of guns and ammo are falling. The gun industry was expecting a Democratic administration and was anticipating continued strong sales.

Because of Trump’s election, “there is no political incentive to buy guns, and, as a consequence, we’ve seen a drop in gun sales,” Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at SUNY Cortland and the author of the book “Guns Across America,” told CNN last month. He projected that “gun sales will be flat” going forward, as the manufacturers and retailers are now “a victim of their success.”

The same story said gun production more than doubled during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. And the FBI conducted more than 27 million background checks in 2016, breaking the previous year’s record.