July 27, 2013 8:00:56 PM
JACKSON -- It's only 10 jobs, but that's not stopping three of Mississippi's highest officials from lauding a new gun maker.
Talon Ordnance announced Friday in a news conference at the state Capitol that it plans to set up shop in Ridgeland to make high-end assault weapons modeled on the AR-15.
The company, led by CEO Clay Baldwin, says it hopes to start turning out rifles in early 2014, making several thousand in the first year. From 15 percent to 20 percent of production would be fully automatic rifles meant for police and military use. The rest would be semi-automatic rifles aimed at individual buyers. They won't be cheap, though, with price tags starting at $2,500.
Baldwin said the owners will invest millions of dollars in the ventures and hope to increase employment to 50 over time, expanding to make shotguns, pistons and ammunition. He said that Talon is a business venture, but the military veteran and lawyer described himself as a "patriot."
"The founders of this project, all Mississippians themselves, decided what was needed in our state was to form a business that would send a clear message to the rest of the country, and indeed to the rest of the world, that Mississippi was not only supporting firearms freedoms, but promoting firearms freedoms," Baldwin said. "Our company has the great honor of producing a product that is directly linked to the preservation of freedom and the protection of self and family at home and abroad."
Gov. Phil Bryant, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn, all Republicans, lauded the company, saying its establishment is further proof of Mississippi's gun-friendly atmosphere.
"We understand this is an industry on the move," Bryant said. "Now we will be making this fine weapon, hopefully for freedom fighters all over the world."
Gunn, of Clinton, sent a letter to 14 gun makers in other states earlier this year urging them to move to Mississippi, saying they wouldn't face any restrictions.
"I have a lot of guns. My name is Gunn," the speaker said Friday. "I'm excited to see what these people produce. I'm calling on all Mississippians to support this group."
The company isn't receiving any state incentive money. The state did provide more than $25 million of incentives in 2010 when Olin Corp. agreed to relocate its Winchester ammunition unit to Oxford.