Departing Rockland gunmaker calls N.Y. law a 'shock'

The Journal News, New York/July 3, 2013

Pearl River - A Pearl River pistol maker decamping Rockland praised neighboring Pennsylvania for its gun-friendly policies Wednesday.

Kahr Firearms Group is moving its headquarters to rural Blooming Grove, Pa., while opening a new manufacturing facility on 620 acres that eventually will employ about 80.

Frank Harris, Kahr's vice president of sales and marketing, said the company had considered expanding near Port Jervis in Orange County, but pulled out at the last minute because of New York's SAFE Act. The tough new gun law was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo less than a month after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed 26 lives.

"It was just passed so quickly," Harris said, speaking by phone. "It was quite a shock to us. It seemed like a very emotional response to a very serious issue our country faces. We thought, ‘OK, maybe we should look for somewhere else.' "

Though the new rules do not directly affect Kahr Arms, Harris said, they have created uncertainty about the future of New York's gun manufacturing industry. Pennsylvania also has lower taxes and fewer regulations.

"There are a lot of gun owners in Pennsylvania," he said. "A gun company is something they really like to have. They are not going to put up roadblocks and administrative obstacles because they don't want us there."

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, who voted for the SAFE Act, pushed back on the notion that the legislation was bad for business.

"It respects the rights of law-abiding citizens and does not stop them from selling or purchasing guns," she said in a statement.

Cuomo on Tuesday expressed doubts on whether Kahr left the state because of the SAFE Act. Kahr's decision comes as lawmakers in Texas and South Carolina are aggressively attempting to lure gunmakers and suppliers away from the Northeast.

Kahr Arms employs about 10 people at Pearl River's Blue Hill Plaza, according to the company, and nearly 200 at its manufacturing plants in Worcester, Mass., and Minnesota. Harris said it will relocate in 2014.

Kahr was founded in 1994 by Kook Jin "Justin" Moon, son of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Korean evangelist and businessman. The company is not affiliated with the Unification Church.

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