gun industry


by Glenn Hall, The Blaze  |  published on March 27, 2013

Guns are big business in America – so big, in fact, that despite making vastly more firearms than any other nation, the U.S. also is the largest importer of handguns, rifles and shotguns.

Demand is so high, that on top of the 6.54 million pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and other firearms made in America in 2011, an additional 3.25 million were brought in from other countries, according to records of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Domestic production grew by 1 million guns from the 2010 volume and imports increased by half a million.

All told, the firearms industry contributes more than $33 billion to the U.S. economy and supports about 220,000 jobs, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That’s more than double the North American payrolls of General Motors, which President Barack Obama called “a pillar of our economy” when he explained the decision to provide more taxpayer aid to help save the car maker in 2009.

Unlike GM, which employs 101,000 people in North America and 213,000 worldwide, the gun business is divided up among thousands of little companies with just a few big, recognizable brands like Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Remington. Big or small, companies making and selling firearms and ammunition provide jobs in every state.

In Idaho, for example, Republican Gov. Butch Otter considers the firearms business “an important piece of the economy” in his state, which is home to one of the largest U.S. ammunition manufacturers — ATK Sporting — and has been attracting gun-related businesses away from other states that have enacted stricter gun controls or raised corporate taxes. Idaho’s firearms businesses generate $512.7 million in revenue and provide 3,116 jobs in the state, according to the NSSF.

“Our idea of gun control in Idaho is to use two hands,” Otter joked during an interview with TheBlaze. “The gun industry doesn’t need to be afraid of Idaho.”

Still, politicians in states such as New York, which recently passed what Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “the toughest gun laws in the nation,” often make a distinction between support for gun control and opposition to firearms businesses and gun owners.

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