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Gunmaker says new law forcing it to leave Connecticut

By Phil Gast, CNN
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1552 GMT (2352 HKT)
PTR Industries of Bristol, Connecticut, said it's leaving the state because of the new strict gun law.
PTR Industries of Bristol, Connecticut, said it's leaving the state because of the new strict gun law.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • PTR Industries says legislation tramples on rights of residents
  • It says legislation ends manufacturer of "modern sporting rifles" in Connecticut
  • Bill advocates say new law is designed to curb gun violence

(CNN) -- A manufacturer of military-style rifles says it is leaving Connecticut and is encouraging other companies to do the same after last week's signing of sweeping gun legislation.

PTR Industries of Bristol said the bill approved by the General Assembly was "fraught with ambiguous definitions, insufficient considerations for the trade, conflicting mandates and disastrous consequences for the fundamental rights of the people of Connecticut."

In a statement, the company said it hopes to pick a site by summer and move by the end of the year.

Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday signed what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.

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The law bans some weapons as well as the sale or purchase of high-capacity magazines like those used in the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting in December that left 20 children and six adults dead. It also requires background checks for all gun purchases.

The Connecticut measure adds more than 100 guns to the state's list of banned assault weapons, limits the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and bans armor-piercing bullets.

Connecticut governor signs sweeping gun measure

While the new law allows current owners of magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds to keep them, it requires those people to register the magazines with the state and forbids owners from loading them with more than 10 rounds outside their homes or while at a gun range.

"At any given time, we own 100,000 or more 20-round magazines," PTR Industries CEO Josh Fiorini told CNN affiliate WFSB. "How are we supposed to individually register all of those magazines?"

No more gun sales where semiautomatic used in Sandy Hook shooting

With the restrictions and loss of sales, Fiorini said, his company will be unable to make payroll.

John McNamara, vice president of sales, said PTR Industries has 42 employees. "Indirectly, we employ 15 to 20 local vendors at any given time who have up to 15 to 30 employees each," he told CNN on Wednesday.

All of the company's rifles are semiautomatic.

PTR Industries sells its products to national distributors, and they are resold to federally licensed retailers across the country, said McNamara.

McNamara said he did not have data on current sales in Connecticut, but he said the law makes the company's rifles illegal for sale or transfer within the state.

"Our governor has decided that he wants our business to stay here and sell the guns he feels deemed illegal to other states, but not our own," said McNamara. "We do not agree with that logic."

Why is passing new gun control legislation so hard?

Critics have argued the Connecticut legislation will do nothing to stop someone like Adam Lanza, who carried out the Sandy Hook school killings December 14 with an assault-style weapon and high-capacity magazines.

"In his case, he stole the guns and went on a murderous rampage," Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, previously has said. "Limiting magazine capacity or mandating registration will only affect law-abiding persons, not criminals bent on murder."

Republican House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, a member of the bipartisan task force that drafted the bill, reassured gun owners they wouldn't lose their guns or ammunition magazines, "so long as they follow our rules and register," he said.

On Thursday, when he signed the gun law, Malloy said, "We have come together in a way that relatively few places in our nation have demonstrated an ability to do."

However, he noted, "Today does not mark the end of our efforts" to combat gun violence.

President Barack Obama has been waging a public pressure campaign for tougher gun laws.

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PTR Industries said the safety of children was "at best questionably improved" since the shootings.

"Due to an improperly drafted bill, manufacturing of modern sporting rifles in the State of CT has been effectively outlawed," the company said in Tuesday's statement, adding it made the decision with "heavy heart."

PTR Industries called on other gunmakers to leave Connecticut and "show our politicians the true consequences of their hasty and uninformed actions."

In February, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn invited gunmakers such as Colt's Manufacturing Co. to relocate to his state from Connecticut and elsewhere. Colt is based in West Hartford.

The gun industry in Connecticut is being attacked and "demonized" because of national politics, Gunn said in a letter to Colt's CEO before the gun law's passage.

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.

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