BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wants more guns and ammo produced in his state.
Otter, a Republican, has sent letters to 79 firearms makers and ammunition producers in 28 states promoting the benefits of relocating to Idaho. He also declared May “2nd Amendment Protection Month” statewide.
“The National Rifle Association ranks Idaho as a gun-friendly state whose laws are among the least restrictive in the nation,” Otter said in his official proclamation. “The state of Idaho openly embraces companies in the arms and ammunition manufacturing sector to expand or relocate to the state.”
The governor’s letters to industry leaders declared, “Here in Idaho, gun ownership is more than a constitutional right; it’s a way of life. That’s why I’m personally extending an invitation for you to grow your bottom line here in Idaho.”
It was the seventh proclamation Otter has signed so far this month designating May to be the month of something; the others, from Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to Mental Health Month, all were requested by various groups. Not so the Second Amendment proclamation.
“In this case, he initiated this,” said Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian. “This was something he wanted to do.”
Otter’s efforts were touted by the state Department of Commerce on Monday, which sent out a statement quoting Fred Newcome, vice president of sales for PNW Arms, which recently relocated to Potlatch. “Idaho offered us an opportunity to relocate somewhere where we could be in a more comfortable environment,” he said.
Megan Ronk, department spokeswoman, said, “It’s definitely an industry that we’re working aggressively to pursue.” Among the pitches: that Idaho “has a number of statutes in place restricting lawsuits against firearms or ammunition manufactures and limiting product liability.”
Hanian, the governor’s spokesman, said, “He wants gun manufacturers to know that while there are some states going after the Second Amendment, in Idaho we plan to uphold it. We want them to know that here in Idaho, the welcome mat is out.”
As the nation was locked in debate over expanding background checks and other measures aimed at stemming gun violence, Idaho lawmakers this year debated nine gun bills and passed four – every one of them aimed at increasing protections for Idahoans’ gun rights.