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There are at least 180 firearms and ammunition makers in Idaho, and the state is looking for more.After all: Idaho is a gun-friendly state. Why not encourage gun manufacturers to come in and set up shop?00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71350000Several years ago, that logic led Idaho’s Department of Commerce to begin recruiting “recreation technology” companies. The term refers to makers of all sorts of outdoor equipment, but the department’s most prominent pitch was to firearms and accessories manufacturers.In the process, state representatives have touted not only Idaho’s tax structure and comfort with firearms — as in this video, from 2011 — but also its firearms-friendly regulatory environment.That last part begs the question: If states want to attract gun manufacturers, can they improve their odds by altering state statutes?The federal government requires that firearms retailers be licensed, and that licensed retailers do background checks. It seeks to keep firearms out of the hands of convicted felons and people with a history of mental illness. (An important caveat: As The New York Times reported last year, many states have passed measures allowing those who have experienced mental illness to petition to have their gun rights restored.)States can enact more stringent regulations, but Idaho has not taken that route. “They’ve added no restrictions above and beyond the federal-level restrictions,” Center to Prevent Gun Violence attorney Lindsay Nichols says of state lawmakers.However, she points out, Idaho is far from alone in that, meaning state statute is unlikely to be the primary recruitment tool.“There are plenty of other states that have weak gun laws as well,” Nichols says. “The decision to exist in Idaho rather than any other state isn’t likely to be based on purely legal elements.” Culture, she says, is a more likely draw.Fred Newcome, a spokesman for PNW Arms, an ammunition manufacturer that recently relocated to Potlatch, says this was the case for them. “Idaho offered us an opportunity to relocate somewhere where we could be in a more comfortable environment,” he says.What does that mean? For one, he says, in Potlatch the company found an enthusiastic and knowledgeable workforce. “When folks come here, they understand that what they’re doing is of vital importance to our national interest, and they take that to heart,” Newcome says. “What they’re doing is participating in something they believe in deeply.

American Bullet Shortage Spells Profits For Idaho Manufacturing Plant

Vista Outdoor, CCI, Speer, gun, ammo, ammunition, bullet, bullets
Dennis van Zuijlekom
Vista Outdoor, which manufactures ammunition under the CCI brand, among others, reported steep profits Thursday. A munitions plant in Lewiston, Idaho, is one of the community's largest employers.

A nationwide ammunition shortage is good news for Vista Outdoor, which owns a munitions factory in Lewiston.

On Thursday, the company announced it earned $78 million in profit during its latest quarter compared to a nearly $12 million loss this time last year. 

“We anticipate this heightened level of demand fueled by many factors, including civil unrest, a heightened desire for personal protection and increases in recreational shooting activities, to continue into the future,” said Vista Outdoor CEO Christopher Metz.

The company owns several well-known brands, including Camelback, CCI and it closed on buying Remington’s ammo and accessory lines last month.

Mets said Vista Outdoor also has a year’s worth of ammunition orders in the pipeline worth more than $1 billion.

“This is unprecedented for our company,” he said. “With demand far outstripping supply and inventory levels in the channel at all-time lows, we see strong demand continuing.”

Metz said the company’s ammunition sectors haven’t slowed down production – they just couldn’t keep up. Vista’s Lewiston plant is one of the area’s largest employers.

Vista Outdoor stock closed at $23.50 per share Friday, up from about $9 per share a year ago.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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