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The state already had a group of successful home-grown companies, such as Daniel Defense near Savannah, and one international heavyweight, Glock, located in Smyrna since the 1980s, Brantley said.

However, economic development recruiters were eager to attract more. Georgia sent representatives to the [SHOT] show in 2015.

“We went and rolled out the welcome mat and recruited them,” he said.

German gunmaker Heckler & Koch opened shop in Columbus in 2017, bringing more than 60 jobs and paying a wage averaging $66,600. Georgia promised it $3.3 million in tax breaks and exemptions.

Taurus was lured in with $39.9 million in tax breaks, grants, training costs and job credits. It promised to pay an average annual wage of $35,000. Remington, a 200-year-old company, was promised $27.9 million in state grants, tax breaks and other help. The company says it will create 856 jobs at an average wage of $65,900.

Brantley said they are solid jobs in what has been a growth industry.

He shrugs off the people who would rather not see Georgia become a magnet for gun manufacturers.

No matter what the industry is, critics can find controversy, Brantley said. “Some would say the film industry is controversial. Automotive. No matter what, there are going to be some that are against or for it.”

“Ultimately, it’s our responsibility to help provide jobs and investment for the community and our citizens,” he said. “They are legal products.”

— Christopher Quinn in Georgia quietly becomes a top gun-making state

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