Prominent New York gun-maker abandons blue state and heads for Georgia

A long-standing gun factory in New York’s Mohawk Valley is leaving the Empire State and relocating to Georgia, taking away a more than 200-year-old staple in the town of Ilion. 

Remington, the nation’s oldest gun manufacturer, told union officials last year that the company chiefs at RemArms, its current name, would end manufacturing in New York in March. The remaining operations in Ilion will relocate to Georgia, a state company leaders believe “supports and welcomes” the firearm industry — delivering a massive blow to the town so intertwined with the factory.

“Two hundred and eight years of history. Gone, gone,” Ilion Mayor John P. Stephens said to the New York Times. “Ilion is Remington. Remington is Ilion.”

“The history and the nostalgic loss that we’re going to suffer is almost, if not bigger than, the financial loss,” the mayor added.

A sign for Remington Arms is displayed in front of their compound in Ilion, New York, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. The nation’s oldest gun-maker is consolidating operations in Georgia and recently announced plans to shutter the Ilion factory in early March. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The closure will result in the loss of 300 jobs for people living in a town of roughly 7,600. Stephens said the village is expected to lose $1 million in revenue due to the move, in addition to the other financial hits to local businesses in the area. 

”It’s like the town is losing its soul,” Stephens told the Daily Mail. “It’s almost like losing a family member. That’s the thing that people are struggling with, the nostalgia, the history. It feels like we are losing the identity of the town.” 

Remington has long been famous for its shotguns and rifles, and the assembly line in Ilion produces hundreds of guns a day. With the shuttering scheduled for March, the New York Department of Labor has been retraining employees for other jobs, according to the state government.

The longtime manufacturer is not the first gun producer to relocate from a blue state in favor of moving down south. Last year, Smith & Wesson relocated to Tennessee from Springfield, Massachusetts, where the company had been located since 1852.

RemArms CEO Ken D’Arcy praised the Ilion workforce in a statement but said Georgia will be a better fit for the remaining operations.

“We are deeply saddened by the closing of this historic facility,” D’Arcy said in a statement on Facebook. “But maintaining and operating those very old buildings is cost prohibitive. And New York State’s legislative environment remains a major concern for our industry.”

“We are very excited to come to Georgia, a state that not only welcomes business but enthusiastically supports and welcomes companies in the firearms industry,” D’Arcy added in a company statement. “Everyone involved in this process has shown how important business is to the state and how welcoming they are to all business, including the firearms industry.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), whose district encompasses Ilion, blamed New York’s “radical anti-Second Amendment policies” shortly after the move’s announcement.

“It is because of New York Democrats’ unconstitutional gun grab policies that the oldest gun manufacturer in the country has been run out of the state,” Stefanik said in November 2023.

Frank “Rusty” Brown poses for a picture at the union office across the street from the Remington Arms compound in Ilion, New York, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

However, Frank Brown, president of Local 717 of the United Workers of America, which represents the Ilion workers, said the move had little to do with New York’s gun laws.

“We have been manufacturing firearms for over 200 years and have never, ever had a problem selling firearms,” Brown, who has worked on the factory’s furnaces for nearly 30 years, told the New York Times. “It’s all about money and greed.”

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Brown said generations of his family worked at the factory, and now he and his wife will be out of a job.

“My mom worked there. My dad worked there. My wife works there with me now. My daughter works there with me now. My second daughter works there with me now. And my son-in-law works there,” Brown said. “So it’s a double-hit for me and my wife: two of us out of a job.”

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