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Gun company finds bullseye in PA after NY restricts sales

When it comes to job creation, one state’s loss is another state’s gain. Kahr Firearms Group, a gun manufacturer, is moving its corporate headquarters from downstate New York to a 620-acre plot in Pike County, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania.

HARRISBURG — When it comes to job creation, one state's loss is another state's gain.

Kahr Firearms Group, a gun manufacturer, is moving its corporate headquarters from downstate New York to a 620-acre plot in Pike County, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania.

The move comes after New York earlier this year passed the SAFE Act, banning sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Kahr Spokeswoman Sheryl Gallup said the company was mulling an expansion in New York before the legislation, but then found Pennsylvania's gun laws "less restrictive."

The Kahr headquarters will move into a business park in Blooming Grove, one that the Pike County Economic Development Authority has looked to fill for the past 10 to 15 years.

The economy of Pike County, on Pennsylvania's eastern border about 75 miles from New York City, used to thrive on tourism and second homes. Post-recession, though, those industries are lagging. Pike County has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate among its 57,000 residents, one of the highest in the state, according to July figures.

"When we see an opportunity for a company such as Kahr coming into Pike County, we see it coming to offset that unemployment rate," said Pike County Commissioner Matt Osterberg.

Kahr's decision, though stemming from extenuating circumstances, was solidified with a local tax incentive.

Osterberg said Kahr will receive a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance package along with the $2 million purchase price. The program, called LERTA, gives businesses partial property tax exemptions on building improvements. The business still pays its full property tax bill on the pre-improvement assessed value of the land, but exemptions apply to the increased value, resulting in a lower tax bill for five years after the improvements. (Ed.: Kahr Arms is owned by Justin Moon, the fourth son of Unification Church founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.)

Osterberg said predominantly rural Pike doesn't have as much public infrastructure as other places, and businesses doing renovations may provide new water, sewer or gas setups.

"This is one way we can give them a little bit of a carrot, a little bit of an incentive," said Osterberg. "I'm just glad they're here."

Steve Kratz, spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development, confirmed the state gave no financial awards nor met with Kahr before the announcement.

The first step in creating Kahr's Pennsylvania headquarters will involve construction, which could start later this year. Management and research-and-development teams will work first, with manufacturing operations coming next. Kahr will begin the move with a 10-person corporate staff in the new location, though eventual employment may be somewhere between 100 and 200 new jobs, the Associated Press says.

"We're looking for a more friendly environment for our business," Frank Harris, Kahr's vice president for sales and marketing, said, according to the AP. "Maybe we could have stayed here and built a plant, but the way the bill was passed left us feeling there were a lot of uncertainties going forward."

Pennsylvania has no such bans on assault weapon or high magazine sales.

Contact Melissa Daniels at

The Pennsylvania Independent  is a public interest journalism project dedicated to promoting open, transparent, and accountable state government by reporting on the activities of agencies, bureaucracies, and politicians in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit libertarian organization.