This is some sad news that we’ve known was coming for several years, but now the end is almost upon us. Remington Arms has been manufacturing quality firearms in the upstate New York village of Ilion for more than two centuries. At one time it employed thousands of workers and it could be argued that Ilion wouldn’t have really existed without it. But next month, the doors will close and the last workers will be sent to the unemployment lines. But that won’t be the end of Remington’s various product lines. You’ll still be able to find them in gun shops around the world. But they will be manufactured in Georgia from now on, a state far more friendly and welcoming to Remington and the firearms industry in general. (Associated Press)
Remington began here two centuries ago and generations of workers have turned out rifles and shotguns at the massive firearms factory in the middle of this blue-collar village in the heart of New York’s Mohawk Valley.
Now residents of Ilion are bracing for Remington’s exit, ending an era that began when Eliphalet Remington forged his first rifle barrel nearby in 1816.
The nation’s oldest gun-maker recently announced plans to shutter the factory in the company’s original home early next month, citing the steep cost of running the historic plant. Remington is consolidating its operations in Georgia, a state the company says is friendlier to the firearms industry.
As I’ve discussed here in the past, this story is rather personal for me. I grew up barely six miles from that factory and many of my relatives worked there over the years. I used to ride my bike past it with my friends several times per week when the weather permitted. Our home always had Remington Arms rifles and pistols in it, mixed in with some other brands.
But we really can’t blame Remington for fleeing New York and gutting the economy of one small village. They were forced into the decision by ferociously high taxes and a seemingly neverending series of crippling lawsuits brought by anti-gun advocates. The company had already filed for Chapter 11 protection back in 22018.
To their credit, the AP does a decent job of interviewing Remington employees and their family members to deliver a bit of context to the story. Remington Arms wasn’t just a factory or a place to work. It was part of the community for far, far longer than living memory. Jobs there were looked upon as a birthright, with sons following their fathers into Remington’s ranks for generation after generation. It was not uncommon to see the grandsons of upper-level managers joining their fathers on the production line or in other parts of the plant.
They spoke with one man whose wife and two of their adult children still work there today. They will all be out of work next month and there are few other large employers hiring currently without needing to commute out of the valley.
This sad story is similar to that of Smith & Wesson, which had produced firearms in Massachusetts since the 1800s. They too were forced to file for Chapter 11 a few years ago and have since moved their headquarters to Tennessee. What do Massachusetts and New York have in common? Quite a bit, including high taxes, rampant overregulation, frequent protests, and courts that entertain bizarre lawsuits against the firearms industry. Why would any company with an interest in survival stick around? The answer is that they wouldn’t and they aren’t. And they’re taking their jobs with them. Best of luck in Georgia, Remington. I know you will be far more appreciated there. But New York is going to miss you when you’re gone.