For seven years now, Dennis Veilleux has held leadership positions at Colt, a Connecticut-based company whose sole reason for existence is to manufacture weapons designed to kill things. In December, using a gun modeled after Colt's trademarked AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a man named Adam Lanza stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, 20 of whom were children. Naturally, the massacre of dozens of Connecticut's most innocent citizens has made some residents question their state's relationship with guns. The governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, has gone so far as to say he'd like to see stricter state gun laws enacted, perhaps even a ban on the AR-15-type rifle used by Lanza in his rampage.
How does Veilleaux, who is now Colt's president and CEO, respond to the misgivings his fellow Connecticuters are having about guns in the wake of tragedy? Why, by threatening to move his company and the jobs it provides to a different state, of course.
Earlier this week, Veilleux wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant criticizing Malloy's heralding of stricter gun laws and desire to ban the AR-15. Malloy doesn't want to prevent Colt from making its AR-15 rifle, mind you, he simply doesn't want it to be bought or sold in Connecticut, where Colt reportedly doesn't sell very many rifles anyway. Nonetheless, Veilleux can't abide by that, as he believes an AR-15 ban within the state would immediately see formerly loyal Colt customers abandon the brand in favor of gun manufacturers in more badass states with cooler gun laws. As he writes:
Our customers are unusually brand-loyal. In many cases, they personally identify with the firearm brand they choose. Although our Connecticut heritage has historically enhanced our brand, that will change overnight if we ban the modern sporting rifle.
As a result Colt, as well as other Connecticut manufacturers such as Mossberg and Stag Arms will see immediate erosion in brand strength and market share as customers migrate to manufacturers in more supportive states.
Veilleux closed his column with a thinly veiled warning: "Like every other precision manufacturer in Connecticut, Colt is constantly approached by other states to relocate..." In other words, back off, or I'll take this ship to Texas.
Last week, in the style of a true drama queen, Veilleux decided to shut down the Colt plant for a day in order to bus 400 workers to the state capitol, where they flooded the Legislative Office Building and told lawmakers they were worried about their jobs.
Sadly, Veilleux isn't the only captain of gun industry threatening to take his ball of death and go elsewhere. Just yesterday Magpul, an ammo magazine manufacturer, said it has already begun its move out of Colorado after the state, which suffered its own large-scale slaughter at a movie theater last year, dared ban magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
[Image via AP]