Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Supporting the Second Amendment; Attracting Jobs

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody! As we work to keep Oklahoma’s economy growing, one of the best things we can do is use every resource we have to create new quality jobs in our state.

That was the idea behind my initiative to attract firearms manufacturers to Oklahoma. Initially, the opportunity was created because many states currently home to gun manufacturers are, to put it mildly, hostile to the notion of gun ownership much less manufacturing.

Oklahoma is a state with a rich sporting heritage in which responsible gun ownership is a part of our state identity. Rather than shun gun manufacturers, Oklahoma would welcome them with open arms.

The Oklahoma resource that is tailor-made for gun manufacturers is Murray State College’s outstanding gunsmith program, which graduates talented gunsmiths every year. Combine that with Oklahoma’s innovative and effective economic development incentives and you have the perfect home for firearms manufacturers.

The key to making all this happen was a policy change to put a focus on firearms manufacturers. That policy change happened four years ago when I wrote and passed Senate Joint Resolution 54.

The measure, which received national attention in the National Rifle Association’s magazine, required the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to partner with Murray State College to develop strategies to attract gun manufacturers to our state. Since then, many of us have been working to make connections in the firearms community.

Several promising contacts have been made, and these are extremely important. Relationships like those we have made are an important part of any company’s process for deciding where to expand or relocate.

We will continue our efforts to strengthen those contacts. A few years ago, I was part of Oklahoma’s delegation to The Shot Show, the annual trade show for firearms manufacturers.

During that whirlwind trip, Commerce Department officials had me booked solid. I met with as many firearms company executives as possible, making contacts I believe will some day bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to our state. This year, I will make another trip to the show with the same goal.

We want firearms manufacturers to know that for their products and the jobs they create, Oklahoma has out the “welcome mat.” To accentuate that point, I am again introducing legislation to protect gun manufacturers in Oklahoma from lawsuits filed by those who wish to destroy right of the people to keep and bear arms.

I believe it is no longer a matter of “if” a firearms manufacturer will come to Oklahoma; it is now a matter of “when” we will get one. A simple idea to use every resource we have could lead to a brighter economic future and new opportunities for Oklahomans. That is a good deal for everyone.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week and may God bless you all.

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