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Mississippi politician urges gunmakers in Connecticut, elsewhere to relocate

By Michael Martinez and Dave Alsup, CNN
February 23, 2013 -- Updated 0602 GMT (1402 HKT)
A 1994 federal ban on certain types and configurations of guns included 19 kinds of military-style rifles and handguns. That ban expired in 2004. But the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school has sparked new calls to ban such weapons. Click through this gallery to learn why military-style guns are important to many gun owners. A 1994 federal ban on certain types and configurations of guns included 19 kinds of military-style rifles and handguns. That ban expired in 2004. But the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school has sparked new calls to ban such weapons. Click through this gallery to learn why military-style guns are important to many gun owners.
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Voices of military-style gun owners
'Some people play golf ... I shoot'
Hunting
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Collectable
'Fascinated by the Second Amendment'
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Massachusetts politicians predict the bid to lure Smith & Wesson to Mississippi will fail
  • The gun industry in Connecticut is being "demonized," says Mississippi's House speaker
  • Gunmakers in "anti-Second Amendment states" won't be criticized in his state, he adds
  • A U.S. senator from Connecticut calls the pitch "preposterous"

(CNN) -- Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn has invited gunmakers such as Colt to relocate to his state from others including Connecticut, where firearms have been a controversial issue since a school shooting there last December left 20 students and six adults dead.

The gun industry in Connecticut is being attacked and "demonized" because of national politics, Gunn said in a letter this week to Colt's Manufacturing Company CEO Dennis Veilleux.

He also invited gunmaker Magpul Industries Corp. of Colorado to relocate to Mississippi.

To back up President Barack Obama's statement that he goes skeet shooting regularly, which some Republicans questioned, the White House released this photo of Obama firing a gun at Camp David in August. See more commanders in chief taking advantage of their right to bear arms. To back up President Barack Obama's statement that he goes skeet shooting regularly, which some Republicans questioned, the White House released this photo of Obama firing a gun at Camp David in August. See more commanders in chief taking advantage of their right to bear arms.
Arming the commander in chief
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Photos: Arming the commander in chief Photos: Arming the commander in chief

Gunn, a Republican, said firearm manufacturers are "under attack in anti-Second Amendment states."

"In our state, you will not be criticized for providing goods to the law-abiding citizens who enjoy hunting, shooting or who just want the peace of mind that comes with the constitutional right to protect their families," Gunn wrote to Colt on Thursday.

"We welcome you with open arms!" he said.

In an interview with CNN affiliate WLBT, Gunn said having gunmakers move their operations to Mississippi is a "natural match," saying the industry "meshes well" in a state with citizens who "love to hunt, ... love to shoot, (and) people enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have the right to defend themselves."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said Gunn sent letters to three gunmakers in his state and called Gunn's proposal "preposterous."

Connecticut residents support the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, "far from demonizing firearms products made here," Blumenthal said in a statement.

"This preposterous pitch to companies with long, successful histories in our state shows the need for national standards and statutes to reduce gun violence," the senator said. "Competition among states for less protective laws is a race to the bottom that should be avoided. The poison of illegal gun trafficking respects no state boundaries and threatens to cause more horrific tragedies like Newtown and the 1,900 gun violence deaths that have occurred since then."

Newtown is the name of the Connecticut town where last December's mass shooting occurred, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Representatives for Colt and Magpul couldn't be reached immediately for comment Friday.

William "Mo" Cowan, interim U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, called Gunn's attempt "gimmicky" and predicted it wouldn't work to draw Smith & Wesson from its base in Springfield, according to CNN affiliate WGGB.

That sentiment was echoed by Springfield's mayor, who said his city's and Massachusetts' skilled and educated workforce measured up favorably against those in Mississippi and other states.

"Smith & Wesson is not going anywhere," Mayor Dominic Sarno told WGGB, adding he still stands by his support for "sensible gun control." "They've been a vital and good corporate citizen here in the city of Springfield."

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