On Monday morning, more than 100 concerned Mohawk Valley residents attended a town hall meeting to discuss possible job retention at Remington Arms. After the meeting, officials and over 30 Remington workers headed to Albany to protest a proposed assault weapon ban.
The Remington Arms facility in the village of Ilion has provided many with jobs for generations dating back to 1816. The factory directly employs more than 1,200 residents and their production supports more than 1,500 full-time jobs, but due to the recent shooting tragedies in Newtown, Conn., and Webster, N.Y., questions have been raised about possible job loss.
Currently, state lawmakers are in the process of considering new gun control legislation banning assault weapons and ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 bullets.
Congressman Richard Hanna said Remington Arms jobs have supported New York state’s economy through more than $20 million in state and local tax revenues derived from more than $85 million in annual compensation. If Remington is forced to scale back New York would have to do without those wages and revenues that fuel so many important initiatives across the state, said Hanna as he quoted a letter written by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“There is no doubt Ilion would not be Ilion with out Remington Arms, let alone the Mohawk Valley. Our culture includes guns and it’s part of how we hunt and target practice. I for one support it,” said Hanna, R - Barneveld. “The Sandy Hook tragedy breaks our hearts and I’m not suggesting to keep guns out of the wrong hands, but New York is rushing this and they need to thoughtfully consider the Second Amendment.”
“Remington Arms is Herkimer County and without it there is no Herkimer County. This company employs people who live here, raise families here and put their kids through college here. We cannot let the state pull the trigger on these jobs,” said Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono.
“Remington Arms is one of America’s most iconic brands and we hope to grow jobs, not loose them. If this bill makes it to the Assembly it will be hard to stop, but were going to Albany to fight the fight and were going to do our best,” said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R - New Hartford.
In most cases, a bill such as the tentative ban on assault weapons allows for representatives up to three days to express concern and make changes, but because a decree has been issued by President Barack Obama the process is being done at a faster pace.
“Frankly, I don’t know if this is something we can stop due to the amount of time we have, but this bill could devastate our area manufacturer,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D - Utica. “For us, manufacturing is not dead it’s here and I want to keep it alive and make it even stronger.”
Page 2 of 2 - “I live here and I shop locally and folks in Washington need to understand we’re in a tough economy and it’s only going to become tougher for us if this ban goes through,” said Remington Arms Union President Jamie Rudwall, who has worked at Remington Arms for 17 years and admitted while he does not own a gun, he respects the product he makes. “This entire community is tied to Remington Arms and If I were governor I would ask myself, would I want to ruin an entire community?”
During the meeting officials encouraged residents to express their feelings regarding the gun ban.
“We need to let the state know it’s not a problem of guns killing people, it’s the problem of people killing people,” said William Keller, who lives just outside of Mohawk and has lived in the Mohawk Valley all his life. “Anyone who could do an act such as the Sandy Hook shooting has to be unstable.”
Similarly, Tom Malley, of Little Falls said a gun can do nothing until a person picks it up.
“In the Virginia Tech shootings the shooter had a mental illness, but because of HIPA laws he did not have to disclose any information,” he said. Malley suggested if someone has a mental illness HIPA laws should be waived and information should be disclosed when a person purchases a gun.
For four generations, Chuck Lester and his family have had a connection with Remington Arms. His father began working at the plant before World War II. As a member of the Municipal Utilities Board he said he believes the gun ban could harm those who are currently employed at Remington Arms.
“Remington has made the area such a success, especially since the village was able to use and sustain power supported through the Ilion Electric Department. Unfortunately, if a ban is put in place it could take out several hundred jobs causing devastation not only to Ilion, but to the whole central New York area,” said Lester.