By CHRIS AGEE
In response to what many consider an attack on gun manufacturers in other states, the Texas Senate recently passed Senate Bill 1467, designed to attract such companies to this state.
Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, supports the bill, saying it sends the message gunmakers are welcome here.
"There is no more pro-business state than Texas," he said. "We're a gun-friendly, right-to-work state with low taxes and reasonable regulations. With SB 1467, there is no better place in the country for a firearms-related business to set up shop."
He explained the bill grants the Governor's Office authority to use financial incentives to facilitate the relocation of gun manufacturers to Texas. The bill, which will next face a vote in the Texas House, is meant to target companies unsatisfied with conditions in their respective states, Estes added.
"I am really disappointed in the way some states are treating their job creators, like Beretta in Maryland and Magpul in Colorado," he said.
"However, their loss is our gain as Texas is more than happy to take all the good-paying manufacturing jobs other states want to give up because of their ill-informed decisions to take away citizens' constitutional Second Amendment rights."
Locally, those involved in attracting revenue and employers say they would welcome relocating businesses.
Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Beth Henary Watson shared her reaction to the possible influx of new manufacturing jobs.
"Although the chamber board does not have an official position on financial incentives to businesses, we support any legitimate business coming to Texas and certainly would welcome with open arms demonized firearms businesses from states that are unfriendly to the Second Amendment," she said.
Watson noted local Industrial Foundation recruiter Steve Butcher reached out to Magpul with a recruiting package, inviting the company to relocate to Palo Pinto County.
"We commend the Area Growth Council for reaching out to Magpul," she said. "It's about the right size for Mineral Wells and we would not have a problem with one of those businesses coming to Mineral Wells to provide high-paying jobs."
Hank Moss of Mineral Wells-based HM Weapons Manufacturing said Texas is already a friendly state to business in general, noting this bill will likely make it an even more attractive alternative.
"I live here," he said. "As far as I'm concerned this is the best place to live and do business."
Texas welcomes relocation with incentives such as the absence of a state income tax, he said, though he said legislation such as SB 1467 will help the Lone Star State stand out among its business-friendly neighbors.
"I do believe some of our Texas legislators are a little cautious," he said. "My personal opinion is we, as Texas, ought to lead the way. It upsets me that Oklahoma and those places lead the way and we end up following."
All things considered, Moss said he has no intentions of leaving and contends local business will continue to
"I'd still rather live here than there," he concluded.