Minden arms manufacturer threatens to leave Nevada if AB291 becomes law

by Brian Bahouth

This is a Franklin Armory "modern sporting rifle" on display at Carson Gun in Carson City, NV - image Brian Bahouth

Carson City – With a Democrat in the governor’s mansion and Democrats in the majority in the Assembly and Senate, several gun control bills have and are making their ways through the 2019 legislative process. AB143 was signed into law on day 12 of the 2019 session and mandates an enhanced system of background checks for gun purchases between individuals, and during a joint meeting of the Assembly and Senate Judiciary committees in February  public testimony both for and against AB143 was passionate and more people appeared to testify on the bill than there was time to hear them.

On Monday of this week, a joint meeting of the Assembly and Senate Judiciary committees heard AB291, a measure that would formally ban gun modifications that would convert a semi-automatic firearm into a fully automatic model, in particular the bill bans the device known as a bump stock. The bill would also roll back the state’s preemption law, which would enable municipalities to enact gun laws more stringent than state or federal law, and the public testimony both for and against AB291 was brimming and passionate, but Jay Jacobson is the president of a Minden-based firearms manufacturer, Franklin Armory, and he said he would move his company and its employees to another state if AB291 becomes law.

Hear Jay Jacobson testify in opposition to AB291.

Franklin Armory moved to Nevada in 2013 from California with 3 employees. Today, according to Jacobson, the company has 30 employees. Jacobson told lawmakers that his company was an innovator in the field and expected to triple the number of employees over the next two years.

“We anticipate 300 percent growth and 90 jobs over the next two years because we have 6 patents currently with many more in process. We also manufacture machine guns for law enforcement,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson told lawmakers AB291 was flawed and had many implications for his business and added that the bill was written by someone who does not know how firearms work.

“A standard, semi-automatic firearm, without any accessories, straight out of the factory, can be bought at Big Five that will out run a machine gun, which is mechanically controlled to a certain rate.”

Jacobson had a series of rhetorical questions.

“This bill creates uncertainty in the marketplace. Does the possession of a 79 cent spring violate the bill? Does lubricating your firearm violate the bill because it’ll run faster with less friction. Does changing the gas port size violate the bill? Does changing the ammunition violate the bill?

“My business cannot operate under this threat, but I do believe that this law were it to proceed as it is written, will be overturned by the courts for ambiguity,” Jacobson said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation organizes a mammoth annual gun show in Las Vegas, Shot Show, and a spokesperson for the group told lawmakers during the joint committee meeting Monday that the passage of AB291 could be devastating for his gun show should Clark County, for instance, pass gun laws that would prevent many gun products from being displayed at Shot Show.

Jacobson said his company spent $120,000 exhibiting at Shot Show this year and that the potential effects of AB291 on the gun industry in Nevada could devastating for stake-holder businesses.

“I will not wait for the state to put a noose around my neck, if AB291 is voted out of committee and moves forward, I will initiate plans to move my company and over 90 high-paying jobs to another state,” Jacobson said.

The committees took no action on the bill Monday.