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How Idaho fares in new ranking of the gun industry, gun prevalence and gun politics

What Idaho gun owners say about the Florida school shooting and gun rights

After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 high school students were killed, gun owners at Independence Indoor Shooting Range in Meridian talk about gun rights, social responsibility and the 2nd Amendment.
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After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 high school students were killed, gun owners at Independence Indoor Shooting Range in Meridian talk about gun rights, social responsibility and the 2nd Amendment.

Idaho depends on the gun industry more than any other state, according to a report from WalletHub, a personal finance website.

The Gem State has the most residents per capita working in the gun and ammunition-manufacturing industry, the website said. Idaho also depends on that industry for political contributions, and it ranks high in firearms ownership.

“The firearms industry is prominent in Idaho,” said Stacey Nagy, national sales manager for Primary Weapons Systems, a Boise weapons manufacturer. “It’s been growing for quite some time.”

WalletHub said it compared the economic impact of guns on each of the 50 states “to determine which among them leans most heavily on the gun business, both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through ownership.”

WalletHub said it evaluated three areas: the firearms-manufacturing industry, gun prevalence and gun politics.

1. The industry: For every 10,000 Idahoans, 40.05 work in the gun-and-ammo manufacturing industry about 6,800 people in all. The industry evaluation also considered manufacturers, firearms dealers and importers, average wages, output, taxes and the strictness of state gun laws.

Idaho ranks second to New Hampshire for highest industry output per capita, WalletHub said. New Hampshire produces $733 per person, while Idaho produces $712, about $1.2 billion.

Idaho ranks just 31st, though, in wages and benefits in the industry. The average worker made $43,825 in wages and benefits.

Idaho has 265 licensed weapons manufacturers, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It has 49 licensed ammunition dealers and four manufacturers of destructive devices.

2. Gun prevalence: The state ranks 10th in gun prevalence, as measured by gun ownership, gun sales per 1,000 residents, gun ads for private buying and selling, and Google searches for “buy gun” and “gun shop.”

The state ranks third in gun ownership per capita, 56.9 percent, behind Alaska (61.7 percent) and Arkansas (57.9 percent), and ahead of West Virginia (54.2 percent) and Wyoming (53.8 percent).

WalletHub1
Idaho leads the nation in the number of per capita workers in the firearms industy, 40.05 per 10,000 residents, about 6,800 workers. Provided by WalletHub

3. Gun politics: Idaho ranks third, as measured by contributions to members of Congress from gun-control and gun-rights groups, and scores awarded to U.S. senators from the National Rifle Association.

WalletHub2
Idaho ranks third in the nation for gun ownership, with 56.9 percent of residents owning at least one firearm. Provided by WalletHub

The ranking comes one month after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, and at a time when gun sales have fallen.

Sales exploded during the eight years former President Barack Obama was in office, said Nagy, of Primary Weapons Systems. Since President Donald Trump entered office early last year, sales have returned to a “normalized demand,” or what the industry experienced in the years before Obama took office, he said.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @JohnWSowell

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