The Texas Senate is sending a message to gun makers across the country: C'mon down, the Lone Star State wants you.
The Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill encouraging Gov. Rick Perry's office to recruit gun manufacturers to Texas. The bill by Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, is mostly a symbolic measure as Perry already has been courting companies to relocate.
Estes' bill would formally add incentive programs for gun manufacturers to the state's economic development law. The bill needs a final vote, likely Wednesday, before going to the House.
"I think it's important that this body express their views," Estes said, noting the companies would bring jobs and economic development to Texas.
"We want every job we can recruit to Texas. We're asking the governor to utilize his power to bring jobs ... There's an opportunity in the present climate in the United States to attract good paying jobs. It's all about being competitive."
Perry already sent letters to more than 30 out-of-state firearms and accessories manufacturers, notably in states such as Colorado that have passed or are considering new control laws. Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz also have put the call out to gun makers to relocate to Texas, including Beretta U.S.A in Maryland.
In March, Colorado's governor signed a bill placing new restrictions on firearms, including required background checks for private and online gun sales and a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. One Colorado-based manufacturer of ammunition magazines disclosed plans to relocate because of the new restrictions.
But Texas isn't alone. Several states have launched similar recruitment efforts.
Estes said the Texas has previously targeted aerospace and technology industries as business it wanted to attract. Several Democrats questioned whether the bill was necessary considering the governor is already courting gun makers and has a Legislature-approved business incentive fund.
Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, asked if Texas should be encouraging more grocery stores to open in the state.
"We have a lot of areas in the state without any grocery stores," West said.
Estes said new gun factories could spur the sort of jobs and economic development that could encourage more grocery chains to open stores.