— Reprinted with Permission of The New American magazine —
The SHOT Show is the largest tradeshow of its kind in the world. The Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show has more than 1,600 product and service exhibitors using over 630,000 square feet of floor space, drawing more than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and over 100 countries. This show is not open to the public, only credentialed wholesalers, retailers, and military and law-enforcement buyers.
There are hundreds of new products debuted every year at The SHOT Show, which was held at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 20-23.
One of the items on display was a firearm made entirely in the state of Idaho (shown). The project was the brainchild of Joe Anderson, president of Tactical Export Strategies, an international brokerage, compliance, and logistics company located in Idaho. Anderson brought 13 different companies together to construct the AR-15 platform rifle of parts and accessories manufactured by companies within Idaho as a demonstration of the diverse manufacturing capabilities within the state.
Anderson also brought the idea to the Idaho Department of Commerce, who, according to IDC Information Specialist Kayla Ruiz said, “It was a good fit for us and our efforts to bring new businesses to Idaho.” The rifle ended up being displayed at the Idaho Department of Commerce Booth for the duration of the show. According to Ruiz and Anderson, the rifle garnered a great deal of interest at the show and an outpouring of interest from other Idaho based manufacturing companies that according to Anderson, “were upset that they weren’t included in the project.” Ruiz also related that due to the interest generated by the All-Idaho Gun, “Idaho Commerce reps met with 20 companies in the firearm and ammo industry in Idaho that have not been on our radar, mostly because they were recent startups.”
Unlike the October 1, 2009 court challenge filed by the Montana Shooting Sports Association and the Second Amendment Foundation that sought exemption from compliance with federal gun control laws under the 2009 Montana Firearms Freedom Act (Idaho passed a similar federal nullification law in 2010), the All-Idaho Gun is not intended as a mass-produced firearm for sale to the public. It is a showpiece, which demonstrates the quality and diversity of manufacturing capabilities available in the state of Idaho.
The All-Idaho Gun is being donated to, and will be raffled off to benefit the 2015 Governor’s Cup, a 501(c)(3) that provides scholarship money to Idaho students seeking post-secondary education within the state. It is expected to auction for over $10,000. Anderson said, “A second rifle will be assembled and kept in the Governor’s office as a show-piece for visitors, and plans are already in the works to produce a different All-Idaho Firearm each year to donate to The Governor’s Cup.”
For the last several years, it has been no secret that the state of Idaho, as well as counties and cities within the state have been attempting to lure rec-tech (recreation and technology) companies to the state. With several states in the northeast passing highly restrictive gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook school murders, numerous firearms and firearms accessory manufacturers were looking to relocate to states that were more appreciative of their businesses.
In May of 2012, David Brown, mayor of Potlatch, Idaho, went public with his city’s plans to attract firearms-related companies to his once-thriving mill town, and the city is still actively working on it. The state of Idaho is also looking for new businesses to move to the state, and has started the Idaho Rec-Tech Passport Program to help facilitate it. The program is designed to increase the number of small businesses exporting in Idaho, as well as increase the value of exports for small businesses that currently export in the state. The program, in cooperation with the Small Business Administration, will offer certain grants and incentives to businesses relocating to Idaho.
Joe Gaines is a retired police sergeant with 25 years of experience. He is a certified police firearms, force options, and EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operators Course) instructor, with 30 years of competitive shooting experience in pistol and multi-gun disciplines.