BOISE – Gov. Butch Otter is using Idaho's reputation as a 2nd Amendment friendly state to try and lure out-of-state businesses.
Lawmakers on the national, state and city level across the country have, or are talking about, creating stricter gun laws in the wake of tragedies like what happened last year in Newtown, Conn. The creation of those laws is driving some gun and ammunition manufacturers to consider relocating their businesses.
The governor sent a letter in April to 79 businesses in 28 states, personally inviting them to do business here in Idaho. Intacto Arms in Boise agrees with what the governor is doing.
A handful of employees run the boutique firearms manufacturing company that specializes in small quantity, but high quality weapons for its law enforcement and military customers.
"More than anything, I mean, Idaho is just a firearm friendly state. I mean it's built around the outdoors and guns are just a way of life here," said Cooper Kalisek, President of Intacto Arms. "It's as pro-gun as it gets."
Kalisek opened the company in 2009. "It was something I was always interested in," he said.
He says he lies awake at night thinking about what's happening to his industry.
"Some of the largest firearms manufacturers that created this business are based in no longer friendly states," said Kalisek.
He's talking about companies in Colorado and Connecticut that are looking to other states to set up shop. Gov. Otter and the Idaho Department of Commerce also see what's going on.
"We here in Idaho see that as a real opportunity for us to tout the advantages that our state can offer to these companies," said Megan Ronk with the Idaho Department of Commerce.
Otter is using Idaho's long standing history of protecting the 2nd Amendment as one reason to send a letter to 79 companies, an aggressive approach to attract business.
"We see opportunities for continued growth and we think Idaho is a great place for these companies to call home," said Ronk.
Right now, there are federal regulations when it comes to being a gun or ammunition manufacturer.
States, as they are allowed to do, can create even stricter regulations, if they choose. And that's what's happening in several states. In Idaho, the laws on the book are no stricter than federal regulations, and lawmakers have no plans to change that.
"It's tumultuous time and there's nights lying awake wondering how, federally, things are going to come down,” said Kalisek. “But no means do I have any concerns about the Idaho state or local legislation affecting our business."
In January, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch sent a letter to Kalisek and Intacto Arms telling them that he would not stand for any impediment on 2nd Amendment rights or any further gun legislation.
The Department of Commerce says the 79 businesses that received the letter were targeted specifically, based on two reasons -- the size of the company and what's happening to gun laws in that state.