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Wyoming has been ranked as one of the top states nationwide for gun ownership and related industry jobs. A recent study placed the Cowboy State fifth in the country for dependence on the gun industry based on the number of firearms-related jobs per capita and several other metrics.

The ranking by personal finance website WalletHub comes following an announcement earlier this year that gun-maker Weatherby would become the latest firearm company to relocate to Wyoming. The California-based company is moving its headquarters to Sheridan.

Weatherby’s move comes three years after Magpul Industries decided to shift its firearms accessories production from Colorado to a new factory in Cheyenne, around the same time that HiViz Shooting Systems also relocated its operations north from Colorado to Laramie.

Wyoming Business Council Business Development Director Ron Gullberg said that while the state has a business-friendly climate overall, firearms had become a niche that officials are seeking to develop.

“You’ve got to play to your strengths,” Gullberg said.

Wyoming has the fifth-most firearm jobs per capita, according to the WalletHub study, though it ranks second-to-last in average wages and benefits for those workers. The state has 780 jobs in the industry, with an average wage of about $26,400, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Another 265 jobs are attributed indirectly to gun suppliers.

The WalletHub study also found that firearms companies in Wyoming paid the highest total amount of taxes per capita of any state, primarily sales tax collected by the businesses.

WalletHub noted that gun sales have fallen dramatically since President Donald Trump took office last year, with revenue falling by one-third at American Outdoor Brands, which owns Smith & Wesson.

The methodology also considered the rate of gun ownership by residents and the political climate related to firearm restrictions, both areas in which Wyoming receives high marks. The state was slotted fifth for gun ownership and second for “gun politics,” a measure of the average score given to state lawmakers by the National Rifle Association, along with gun-related political contributions.

While several states and retailers have stiffened gun regulations in light of the high school shooting in south Florida last month, the Wyoming Legislature has shown little appetite for similar moves.

The Legislature this year approved a so-called “stand your ground” self-defense bill advocated for by both the NRA and Wyoming Gun Owners. The NRA released a statement praising the state following the bill’s passage into law.

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“The five million men and women of the NRA thank the leaders in the Wyoming Legislature,” NRA Wyoming lobbyist Travis Couture-Lovelady said in a statement.

Gullberg said that Wyoming’s image as a gun-friendly state, including its relatively open gun laws, was helpful when recruiting companies in the industry. But he noted that a strong support system, such as a trade program at the community college in Sheridan that appealed to Weatherby, were far more important.

“Image will only take you so far, he said. “You have to have the infrastructure.”

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