Gun manufacturer to leave state; Cites strict new gun laws

Gun manufacturer to leave state; Cites strict new gun laws

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BRISTOL, CT (WFSB) -

A manufacturer of assault rifles announced on its website and Facebook that the company is planning to move out of the state after new gun control legislation was passed last week.

In a statement released Tuesday night, PTR Industries said it is leaving Connecticut after the passage of Bill 1160 on April 4.

"We knew right after reading the text that if it passed, we wouldn't have a choice," said PTR Industries owner Josh Fiorini.

On that day, Connecticut lawmakers passed some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. State lawmakers voted to expand the ban on assault weapons and also limit the sale of magazines to only 10 rounds.

Gun owners in the state will now have to register their weapons and ammunition, and for the first time ever, the law requires background checks on all sales.

"What emerged was a bill fraught with ambiguous definitions, insufficient considerations for the trade, conflicting mandates and disastrous consequences for the fundamental rights of the people of CT," said officials at PTR Industries in a statement on their website.

According to its website, PTR Industries produces several versions of military-style assault rifles at its Bristol location.

"As a business, we have to make a payroll for someone $50,000 a week," Fiorini said. "I can't wait. I can't do that with no sales."

In its statement, officials for the company said they attended hearings on the bill and felt that Connecticut lawmakers had not read the more than 100-page bill before voting on it.

The bill was passed months after 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

"The rights of the citizens of CT have been trampled upon. The safety of its children is at best questionably improved from the day of the tragedy that triggered the events that lead us here," said officials at PTR Industries in a statement on their website. "Finally, due to an improperly drafted bill, manufacturing of modern sporting rifles in the state of CT has been effectively outlawed. With a heavy heart but a clear mind, we have been forced to decide that our business can no longer survive in Connecticut - the former Constitution state."

Fiorini said PTR Industries makes mostly modern sporting rifles. Under the new law, all of them would be banned, while limiting magazine rounds to 10 would also hurt his business.

"At any given time, we own 100,000 or more 20-round magazines," Fiorini said. "How are we supposed to individually register all of those magazines?"

Fiorini said a rifle, which only uses five rounds, would still be considered illegal because of the grip.

The owner said he's actually OK with some of the regulations and even universal background checks.

However, Fiorini said he feels lawmakers did not take them into consideration at all.

"The way in which the final law was drafted, after months of hearings and deliberations and all that work was essentially set aside at the last moment, with a bill drafted hastily behind closed doors, that process is the process we use the word 'trampled,'" Fiorini said. "That's what that feels like."

Officials at PTR Industries had not decided on a new location for its company, but the business will be "actively considering offers from states that are friendly to the industry" in the coming weeks.

"We are making a call to all involved in our industry to leave this state, close your doors and show our politicians the true consequences of their hasty and uninformed actions," the statement said. "We encourage those in our industry to abandon this state as its leaders have abandoned the proud heritage that forged our freedom."

Fiorini said he wants to move out before the new law goes into place Jan. 1.

The company said it would move all its employees and its vendors with it to the new location.

"We are pleased to say that we currently have commitments to move from a majority of our employees, which includes all of our management personnel, engineering staff and skilled gunsmiths," the statement said.

Fiorini said he believes if the Legislature took more time to draft the new law, there could have been a good compromise between those wanting more gun control and those doing business in Connecticut. 

"Had there been sufficient exemption for manufacturing, for us to do business in a way that we were comfortable, would not put our business and our personnel at risk of criminal convictions, we would not have made this decision so quickly," Fiorini said.

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