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Gunmaker tax breaks for jobs scrutinized after school shooting

By MICHAEL C. BENDER AND WILLIAM SELWAY Bloomberg News

This article was published January 9, 2013 at 8:34 a.m.

Governments in nine states have awarded at least $49 million in subsidies in the past five years to gun and ammunition makers whose products are under scrutiny after last month’s school shooting in Connecticut.

Almost 85 percent of those tax breaks or grants have gone to two companies: Olin Corp., the Clayton, Mo.-based maker of Winchester-brand bullets and shotgun shells, and a unit of Freedom Group Inc., the Madison, N.C.-based company that produces the rifle used in the Dec. 14 killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The subsidies from state and local governments are attracting attention after high-profile mass murders last year, which also included a July shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater that killed 12. Lawmakers and gun-control advocates are pressing to stop aid for weapons manufacturing, saying it does little to create new jobs and isn’t worth the social costs.

“Sometimes our moral compass gets spinning and we don’t care who we give incentives to or what the unintended consequences are,” said Kentucky Rep. Jim Wayne, 64, a Democrat whose state approved $4.8 million in tax breaks in the past five years for closely held Freedom Group’s Remington Arms Co. unit. “We have to be very serious about whether we want to attract these kinds of jobs into our state that actually further a culture of violence.”

Governments in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire and New York approved the subsidies to attract jobs from other states or to keep companies from moving, according to public records. The incentives were aimed at protecting or attracting more than 2,800 jobs, and for companies to train 500 workers. Lawmakers said they hoped more jobs would follow.

The subsidies aren’t unique to the weapons industry, as governments around the country routinely offer aid for jobs.

“Incentives help businesses expand and grow and stay healthy,” said Joe Holmes, director of marketing for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, which has approved tax credits for Remington’s ammunition plant near Little Rock.

Lawmakers are taking another look at the subsidies as gunmakers and their advocates, including the National Rifle Association, prepare to battle state and federal proposals to restrict sales of some products.

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1soni says... January 9, 2013 at 9:48 a.m.

If I recall, besides the tax incentives given by the state and local communities, many of the larger manufactures use temp agencies to avoid paying FICA, FUTA, SUTA, workers’ compensation, etc.

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Packman says... January 9, 2013 at 10:02 a.m.

Noticed the shameless anti-gun nuts have recruited yet another brain damaged pawn to do their dirty work. First it was James Brady and now poor Gabby Giffords. The anti-gun nuts know they cannot win the debate based on logic and intellect, so they shamelessly resort to emotion and rhetoric by literally using people with brain damage who are unable to fully think for themselves. These anti-gun nuts have no shame, as also evidenced by trying to force hard working peole into the unemployment line by doing away with coroprate tax incentives. Let the battle begin.

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NoUserName says... January 9, 2013 at 10:39 a.m.

1soni, the workers would be employees of the temp agency and that agency would be responsible for FICA, etc.

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1soni says... January 9, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.

NUN - But the temp agency isn't enjoying any of the tax incentives. But it isn't just gun and ammo manufacturers. It is most large manufacturers. It is one of the tools states use to entice them to move to their state.

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SF72764 says... January 9, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.

Pretty feeble attempt at a distraction, considering the "gun/ammo" industry is/was not the only industry to be offered and received incentives.

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Ran2133 says... January 9, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.

States and local governments have been providing tax incentives to companies for decades to locate and build factories, which create jobs for their citizens. This is simply another example of the bias of the national media: i.e. Bloomberg News, Associated Press, etc. Such tax incentives are also provided to manufacturers of automobiles, plastic piping, television, computers, soap, cereal as well as thousands of other products. However, the authors of this article don't write about that. The voters of Kentucky need to put Representative Jim Wayne on the ranks of the unemployed in the next election; if, he was quoted accurately. His being a Democrat, I'm sure he was. I doubt if the employees of those firms would agree with him, though!

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Sterls says... January 9, 2013 at 12:44 p.m.

Emotion and rhetoric, indeed. The same ploy used in the last election to make voters believe that all of our spending problems are caused by "rich people" not kicking in enough money. But I digress. What is cleverly hidden in this call to eliminate job subsidies for gun makers here in the U.S. is the possibility of forcing manufacturers to go abroad to find labor. Once guns become an "inported" item from outside the country, the government can simply ban their importation and thus restrict gun ownership here. You may still have the right to bear arms, but you won't be able to buy them.

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