Gun Industry Jobs Appearing In More States Than Ever

by
posted on May 12, 2024
Smith & Wesson forge man yellow orange steel forging parts manufacturing
Photo courtesy of author.

Gun-related jobs have been moving from liberal strongholds to friendlier political climes for more than a decade. Smith & Wesson is one of the latest. In 2021, it announced construction of a new headquarters and factory in Tennessee. The facility, in Maryville, Tenn., is already producing firearms. Roughly 1,000 jobs remain at the company's historic Springfield, Mass., site, but 800 new positions are now filled by workers in the Volunteer State.

RemArms shuttered the famed Ilion, N.Y., factory that built the Remington firearms legend earlier this year. Operations moved to LaGrange, Ga.

The list of major firms that have packed it up and moved is a long, well-reported one. There’s another trend under those headlines, though. According to the last three “Firearm and Ammunition Industry Economic Reports” issued by the National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF), the industry-related job growth isn’t concentrated in one or two states—it’s spreading across the nation.

NSSF’s study covering 2021 shows the top 10 states in job growth that year, in descending order, were: Wyoming, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Virginia, Massachusetts and Ohio.

The following year, the list was: Tennessee, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Indiana, Washington and New York. And in 2023, the financial benefits went to: Kansas, Arizona, Minnesota, California, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Illinois, North Dakota, New York and Wisconsin.

The fact Wyoming, Tennessee and Kansas came out on top in industry-related job growth from 2021 to 2023 speaks volumes. None are members of our nation’s so-called “cradle of gunmaking.”

Part of that trend, no doubt, is attributable to the nearly universal use of cutting-edge CNC machinery. They may have, unfortunately, replaced the skilled hands of an experienced craftsman, but they’ve allowed freedom-loving firms to haul anchor and sail away from hostile politics. Their versatility also allows startup companies to launch operations from nearly anywhere.

Perhaps more eye-opening is the widespread distribution of these new jobs. In all, 24 different states made those top 10 lists—almost half the country. Only three appeared more than once: Maine, Wisconsin and New York.

The $90 billion nationwide economic impact of the firearm and ammunition industry, the jobs it supports and families it feeds are more widely distributed across the United States than ever before. So is the infrastructure-supporting tax revenue it generates. Last year, that came to nearly $11 billion in federal and state taxes, with nearly $1 billion in excise tax.

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