NSSF's Georgia Drive-In Brings Firearms Industry's Significance to Peach State Lawmakers
Georgia state lawmakers heard directly from their homegrown firearms industry base about the contributions, benefits and challenges of doing business in the Peach State.
National Shooting Sports Foundation invited Georgia-based firearms manufacturers, retailers and distributors to the state capital to meet with state senators and representatives in an event labeled the Georgia Drive-In, modeled after the Congressional Fly-In. The message was clear. Doing business in Georgia is good because of the support Georgia lawmakers give to the firearms industry.
NSSF members, including Glock Inc., and Daniel Defense spoke of how both businesses are expanding operations in Georgia and increasing their workforce. Meetings included a chance to speak with leadership from General Assembly as well as Lt.Gov. Casey Cagle and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
"We pride ourselves on being a pro-gun state," Cagle said. "Our economy is doing really well. We're the eight largest state and continuing to grow."
Cagle understood the contributions of the firearms industry to his state. Last year, gun and ammunition business generated $1.19 billion in economic activity. That includes the 3,450 people employed in manufacturing, distributing and selling firearms, ammunition and hunting equipment. An additional 3,863 people are employed in supplier and other related industries.
Taxes generated include more than $132.6 million in taxes, including $53 million going directly to Georgia. An additional $21.8 million is generated in excise taxes in Georgia, which contributes to wildlife conservation.
Cagle noted NSSF's visit to Atlanta coincided with an event to show appreciated for the state's law enforcement community. He also noted the firearms industry's role in supporting state police.
"All of our troopers have a Glock," Cagle said.
Brandie Collins, Public Relations and Communications Manager for Glock, noted Glock employs 500 people at their Smyrna plant and just completed a $70 million expansion. Marty Daniel, President and CEO of Daniel Defense noted his expansion at his Black Creek facility, near Savannah. The $29 million project will bring 75 jobs to Georgia. Even the smaller companies noted their busy schedule. George Trulock, manufacturer of shotgun choke tubes based in Whigham, employs 22 people and he's been running operations 24 hours a day, five days a week.
"We're busy," Trulock said.
State legislators noted the importance of the firearms industry in their meetings NSSF members. State Sen. David Shafer, President Pro Tem of the Georgia Senate, presented NSSF's Trevor Santos, Director of State Government Relations, with Senate Resolution 342 to honor NSSF.
Sen. Shafer told the firearms industry representatives that there is still work to be done at the state level to ensure firearms manufacturing remains strong in Georgia. Shafer noted the Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act was combined with other legislation and presented to the governor last year, but vetoed for provisions unrelated to the bill. The FIND Act would protect businesses from being denied financial services solely for being engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms and ammunition.
"Our Second Amendment rights are meaningless unless we protect the industry that makes firearms," Shafer said.
NSSF is continuing to work on the issue of discrimination of firearms-related business being denied financial services.
State Rep. Rick Jasperse told the NSSF members their outreach efforts are crucial to ensuring firearms manufacturing and retail is protected in Georgia. He said state legislators are inundated with information from all sides of a variety of issues daily. Hearing directly from businesses within the state that are employing Georgians and contributing to the economy informs lawmakers of the impacts of legislation under consideration.
"It's tough being on the front lines of this issue," Jasper noted. "You need to reach out and help them. They need to feel your support. Invite them in. Let them know what you're doing."
Carr noted NSSF has a "special place in my heart." Carr noted his work previous to his appointment as attorney general where he previously served as commissioner for Georgia's Department of Economic Development. He said firearms manufacturing has a home in Georgia.
'We want you to be here," Carr said. "We want you to be successful here. We want you to grow here and if you're not here, we want you to move here."
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org.