Ilion (WSYR-TV) -- Calls to stiffen gun laws are worrying officials in the village of Ilion, just outside of Utica, built around the gun manufacturing company Remington Arms.
The company recently moved its Bushmaster rifle manufacturing to its plant in Ilion. It’s the gun used in both the Newtown and Webster shootings last month.
Villagers in Ilion say banning certain weapons as a response to the shootings would devastate their community.
When Michael Sportello was in the army, he was proud to tell everyone that some of the guns he used came from his hometown.
The worry now is that it won't always be there. People in Ilion believe tougher gun laws will encourage Remington Arms to pick up and move out of state and leave the more than 1,000 people employed there without a job.
“It's not just gun owners, hunters, or target shooters that are worried about this. It's the average everyday citizen that might work at Walmart or a retail store and they feel the same way,” said Chuck Lester, who's on the Ilion Municipal Utilities Board.
Lester doesn't own a gun, but does interior restoration for many people who do. He says a loss of that magnitude would bring down his business, too.
“If we lost Remington Arms, it'd be a major hit. Not just to Ilion alone, it would affect the entire surrounding area,” Lester said.
A loss of employment and the village's tax base are also a concern.
“You might as well fold the sidewalks up if Remington were to leave Ilion,” said Ilion’s Deputy Mayor Beth Neale.
Neale and the village have a long history of working with Remington Arms... the public and private sector doing what they can to help each other thrive.
Just this past summer, Ilion made it possible for Remington to purchase its electricity from the village power grid. They believe Remington is saving up to $2-million, which encourages employment.
And the plant is hiring.
According to Neale, Remington is “looking for able bodied people to come work for them. That’s not happening in a lot of places here.”
The villagers believe some of the gun laws proposed would only reverse that trend and create more victims of the mass shootings - in the form of the Remington Arms plant, and the village of Ilion.
Neale says that one proposal on the table now could both help curb gun violence and protect the village. That’s banning the high-capacity magazines that can hold 30 bullets at a time.