Pro-gun group pulls support for Connecticut park honoring Colt

A prominent gun lobby has reportedly withdrawn support for a federal bill that would create the Coltsville National Historical Park in Connecticut.

The Hartford Courant reports that the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers including Colt’s Manufacturing Company in West Hartford, sent a letter to members of the all-Democratic Connecticut congressional delegation and Gov. Dannel Malloy claiming it’s deceitful  and hypocritical to simultaneously support the national park in Hartford and gun control laws.

"Our industry is offended by the hypocrisy of our elected officials in Congress and the state government that simultaneously advocate for legislation that pays homage to our industry's heritage and legacy in Connecticut by establishing a national park on the site of the legendary, iconic Colt factory, while at the same time pursue gun control legislation,'' read a two-page letter by Larry Keane, the foundation's general counsel.

As a major contributor to the state’s economy, Keane said it’s “unacceptable” for lawmakers to propose banning some of Colt’s products and to hinder its ability to grow its business.

“Our Connecticut members are unwilling to trade valuable manufacturing jobs for ticket-taker jobs at a national park,” Keane’s letter continued.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., urged the lobbying group to go back to its “bread and butter,” the newspaper reports.

"It's pretty funny that the NSSF actually believes that their position on Coltsville matters to anyone,'' Murphy said. “The NSSF should go back to their bread and butter — scaring people into believing that the only way to stop gun violence in our schools is to put more guns in our schools."

Gun control became a fervently-debated issue in the aftermath of the shooting deaths of 20 children and six women at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. Malloy and Connecticut’s legislature later passed new restrictions on the sale of guns, including the AR-15 that’s manufactured in Connecticut.

Malloy's spokesman, Andrew Doba, told the newspaper that the Coltsville project is an economic development plan with residential units, office space, and a museum.

"The question is, does the gun manufacturing industry only care about economic development when it comes to selling guns?'' Doba asked. "Frankly, it's hypocritical to talk about the importance of jobs and economic development and then oppose a project that would create jobs and promote economic development — and put no one's safety at risk."

The debate on whether Coltsville should be declared a national park dates back more than two decades, the newspaper reports. Bills to establish Coltsville National Historical Park have been sent this year to committees in both the U.S. House and Senate. In 2010, a version of the bill reached the House floor but did not gain enough votes to pass.

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