PTR’s story really became interesting last year. PTR’s operations and sales began taking off in the winter of 2012. Then it happened, the tragedy at Sandy Hook set opportunistic legislators into overdrive pushing feel-good legislation that would not address the issues, but instead pushed anti-firearm legislation. That was compounded by the fact that PTR was practically at the epicenter, a mere 30 minutes or so from Newtown.
PTR—like the rest of the gun industry—feared the legislative consequences that could have been a result. Decisions were no longer rooted in how to advance PTR’s product and standing within the industry. Instead, the strategy turned to survival. As proof, a few miles south, New York was the first state to jump off the cliff with its new laws making it illegal to carry over seven rounds in a magazine. In their haste as a knee-jerk reaction, legislators were so short sighted they forgot to add so much as an exemption for law enforcement. With the writing on the wall, it was not a stretch to believe the same ill-reasoned thinking would prevail in Connecticut.
In the months following Sandy Hook, PTR along with several other industry partners and lobby groups, worked hard to reach out to legislators. The purpose was to ensure the laws that were almost assuredly going to result were well reasoned and focused on preventing criminal acts, not law abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights. PTR also wanted to ensure the proper exemptions were put in place to protect manufacturers, law enforcement and others. Unfortunately, PTR et al. were severely outnumbered, not so much at the local level but on a state level.
Initially, there were a host of committees focusing on different areas of concern such as gun safety, school safety and mental health all with experts to testify for their appropriate political lean. At this point, the legislators really seemed to be vetting the details. Then, the Governor seemed to become impatient. A bill was drawn up within 48 hours and passed less than a day later. The result was a poorly worded and ill-conceived bill. Although the intent may not have been to bar PTR and others from manufacturing products, even for law enforcement and military, the intent to ban the products from the citizenry had the same haphazard effect.
The response was immediate. Customers were calling to see whether the bill would put PTR out of business. Vendors inquired as to whether back orders would be filled and creditors wanted to know if they would still be paid. The decision to leave Connecticut for friendlier grounds was extremely evident. An email was quickly drafted and disseminated to about 80 addresses to inform business partners of PTR’s intent to relocate to a friendlier locale. The email simply stated PTR did not know where its new home be located, but that it would happen before the new legislative restrictions took effect.
Two hours later, local media was knocking on the front door. PTR was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. PTR was the first to announce its intention to move and thereby highlighted the economic consequences of the ill-conceived legislation. As the epicenter of the movement, PTR readily received offers from over 40 states, either at the state or local level within the following days. The outpouring of effort from so many governors, senators, mayors and representatives eagerly working to create jobs for their community was absolutely remarkable.
PTR started considering its options. Of course, a move would mean a significant investment. PTR had to be sure it would not end up in the same position a few years later. PTR wanted to find a state it knew had a record of being Second Amendment friendly and would remain so in the future. In the end it came down to two states, Texas and South Carolina. Geography played a deciding role. South Carolina was a half-day drive from PTR’s previous home. This was helpful to employee retention and business continuity.
PTR’s rifles are unique and easily differentiated from other AR platforms. Employees already in possession of the knowledge and skill set to work on PTR offerings were essential to a successful transition. In the end, the executives surveyed the employees and let their preference be a deciding factor. The top-down loyalty strategy resulted in the employees having a strong influence over the final decision and more cohesive workforce as a result.
To be fair, there is a part of this story that was left out of the telling. It is included here as a moral to the story. After the local media ran with PTR’s original email about its intention to relocate (and the national press picked up the story), Connecticut’s governor and his administration reached out to PTR. This led to a number of meetings with the secretary of commerce and House and Senate leadership in Connecticut. It seemed the media spotlight has caused a change of heart about the bill’s impact on manufacturers. PTR laid out a number of specific issues that aside from trampling individual rights, made it impossible for PTR to do business within the state.
Later, to the lawmaker’s credit, a 35-page patch was amended to the supposedly perfect 139-page original bill. The amendment sufficiently addressed PTR’s concerns to the point that it no longer “had” to move—at least not from a legal standpoint. PTR then had a tough decision to make. In the end, PTR decided the move was the correct decision not only as a business decision, but more importantly as a moral decision. Connecticut had banned its product within the state and infringed on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. Actions have consequences, and PTR decided it needed to follow thorough and demonstrate-both for the manufacturers and the citizens.
As a show of appreciation to South Carolinians and a few individuals who made PTR’s move possible, PTR designed a limited edition rifle based on its .308 platform. However, whether or not they ever had the pleasure of previously squeezing the trigger on one of PTR’s guns, when the word got out consumers began beating a path to PTR’s new Aynor, South Carolina digs. While I was not smart enough to make the journey and secure one for myself, fortune smiled on Bob Campbell who will have a review for you soon!