A group of New York State lawmakers are upset that Remington Manufacturing is moving two weaponry assembly lines to Huntsville, AL. The Bushmaster and R1 handguns will now be manufactured in Huntsville rather than in Ilion, NY. They are upset at the State of New York for creating a climate that discourages firearms manufacturers from producing there. The political climate regarding 2nd Amendment issues did influence Remington’s decision process. However, this would only tell part of the story. Twenty years ago, Remington would have been forced to remain in New York and take what they were getting handed. Now, because of specific things that have changed in both Alabama and in much of the rest of the South, New York has to compete to keep mechanized jobs. This is an untold story that will have political ramifications for the next few years until other parts of America adjust to the fact that the world is changing or accept that they will have far fewer manufacturing jobs in their locales.
Remington is impacted negatively by a New York state law passed in 2013 called the SAFE Act. Governor Andrew Cuomo describes the law as follows:
“The SAFE Act stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. For hunters, sportsmen, and law abiding gun owners, this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep or use your guns.”
Remington has a different view of the SAFE Act because they would have to change the design of their Bushmaster Weapon. The SAFE Act reclassifies this weapon as an assault weapon and therefore bans its sale and production under the current design. This has far more ramifications than just touching up a few engineering drawings. It also impacts the assembly line layout, the supply chain and perhaps the entire retailing and marketing strategy for the redesigned product. Remington has described this as a sign they are no longer wanted in New York. Yet this only tells a part of the story.
Remington had to find a place to go. They had to find a place where there products would have a ready market. Alabama has checked that particular block since they attained statehood. If they locate anywhere near the Toyota Plant already near Huntsville, they will have to freight their merchandise less than ten miles to find at least three very popular outdoors outfitter stores that sell large selections of firearms. As the economy of Northern Alabama has grown larger, many of its consumption preferences haven’t changed. The amounts purchased, however, have increased prodigiously along with the local population and income level.
The character of Huntsville’s population has also changed. It is one of the few places I can think of that is aggressively creating, rather than destroying, its economic middle class. Yes, Remington is moving jobs to escape a retrograde political hostility towards the individual liberties given to all Americans via The Bill of Rights. There is far more happening here than just a firearms company being forced to move its location in order to escape a Neanderthal Tribe of ignorant gun-grabbers.* Remington is moving many of the more advanced and technical aspects of their operation into Huntsville precisely because of what Huntsville now offers. A company spokesman explains the broad nature of Remington’s move into Huntsville.
“In order to remain the most innovative, product-oriented player in the outdoor and defense space, we are vertically integrating our internal sources of supply with our modern firearms platforms, sourcing, design engineering, quality, and AME to create a first-of-its-kind, world-class facility,” Novin said. “For the first time in our almost 200-year history we will innovate, design, and build in one place.” Currently, Remington’s headquarters is located in Madison, North Carolina, but plans to expand in Huntsville. The company plans to invest $110 million into The Rocket City and add an estimated 2,000 new jobs over the next decade. How many of those jobs include employees from other facilities is unknown.
Meanwhile, Huntsville’s community organizations are doing all they can to make Remington more welcome. Drake State, a local technical college, has already started collaborating with Remington. They are asking how they can change aspects of their training programs to better provide Remington with skilled assembly line workers. While New York State passes laws that deliberately forces Remington to redesign their products, they have the option of moving to a place where local educational institutions call them up, walk their facilities and try to determine how to fit their curriculum to Remington’s technical needs.
Neither this, nor the SAFE Act would have happened twenty years ago. Without The SAFE Act, Remington may never have left Ilion, NY. Without the changes and upgrades being made in Huntsville (and in many other parts of the South), they would never have decided to come down South. Rich and powerful states used to get away with putting any restriction they wanted on their manufacturers without any major blow-back. They can’t anymore, much of the rest of the nation has economically caught up and can offer manufacturers a profitable alternative to the baronial arrogance of Governor Cuomo’s failed authoritarian liberalism.
*-People of Cuomo’s ilk have considered Alabamians Cromagnons since Alabama has been settled. I felt a little et tu quoque was in condign order here.