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Cuomo says gun laws won't impact Remington, but rumors circulate

Ryan Delaney

Speaking on a brief visit to Rochester on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he didn't believe that the NY SAFE ACT OF 2013 passed on Tuesday would impact on jobs at Remington Arms in upstate New York.

“I don’t believe it is going to have a significant impact on them, but that’s for them to determine,” the governor told reporters.

Speaking to Innovation Trail reporter Ryan Delaney on Wednesday, Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce director John Scarano says the community of Ilion, where the factory is based, feels it should have been given more of a say in such a sensitive issue.

"Without even this three day waiting period, that’s, in my mind, that’s not good. I’m not sure Remington had their say in court, if you will."

But rumors were already circulating in the town that the company could lay off a few hundred workers.

On Monday night, spokesmen for the union representing the majority of workers at the Remington Arms plant in Ilion went to Albany to lobby legislators over the potential impact on jobs before the legislation was passed by the  New York state Assembly on Tuesday.

Speaking with New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Correspondent Karen DeWitt, Frank "Rusty" Brown, who represents the majority of the workers, at the plant said:

"There’s 1,300 of us work there. There’s over 1,100 union employees alone. If you look behind me you can see 30 of us here today trying to express our concerns to all the legislators here in Albany that our jobs are important and we don’t want to lose our jobs."

Speaking as the sponsor of the bill on the floor of the Assembly during the five hour debate on Tuesday, Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) confirmed that the state's new gun laws do ban the sale of some of weapons made at the Remington plant in Ilion, but that Remington's gunsmith's exemption meant that the company was still free to manufacture and export its line of Autoloading R-15 450 Bushmaster and R-25 Centerfire Rifles, which are both banned for sale in New York state under the new legislation.

Assemblywoman for District 101 Claudia Tenney spoke during Tuesday's Assembly debate:

“We may be jeopardizing the livelihood of hard-working people, who for generations, and there are generations of people who have now worked at Remington Arms, who have gone to work each day and created these top-quality worldwide products. They’re a vital part of upstate New York. These people deserved to have their voices heard by the governor. I hope we aren’t denying these people a livelihood by voting in favor of today.” 

The timing of Cuomo's visit to Rochester coincided with the signing of a 23 executive orders by President Obama which echoed many of the measures in the New York legislation. The measures include reinstating the federal ban on military-style weapons that expired in 2004, however it will be up to Congress to decide on that and the majority of the other proposals.

A 2012 report by the National Shooting Sport Foundation on the Economic Impact of the Firearms and Ammunition Industry linked nearly 8,000 direct and indirect jobs in New York to the sector generating approximately $1.26 billion in revenue and around $450 million in wages in the state.

A letter sent by Senator Liz Krueger (D, WF) 28th Senate District to the governor on January 2nd, said that Empire State Development had provided $5.5 million in grants and subsidies to Remington since 2007.