Taxpayer subsidies also went to Adams Arms, a Palm Harbor gun parts maker that sells equipment to enthusiasts looking to retrofit their assault weapons. That company received more than $200,000 in taxpayer incentives last year to set up shop in Pasco County, bringing an estimated 29 jobs. The company’s motto: “Precision technology for the modern warrior.”
The Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida, the two state organizations that run the incentive program, did not respond to questions from a Herald/Times reporter. Scott’s office did not respond to questions.
Gun-control advocates in the Legislature are angered by the tax breaks.
“There are members of the Legislature who in recent years have talked about the funding of terrorist groups,” said Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Miami Democrat who has tried to pass gun-control measures in the past. “The idea that we’re giving incentives to [assault weapons manufacturers] is problematic. It’s hypocritical.”
Sean Caranna, executive director of gun-rights group Florida Carry, disagrees.
“We’re talking about manufacturing jobs. High-paying manufacturing jobs that employ a lot of skilled labor here in Florida,” he said. “These are firearms that are used primarily for lawful reasons.”
Florida’s support for the gun industry goes beyond tax dollars. The state also provides a steady stream of customers by making it easier to buy guns and take them into more places.
The Legislature has passed dozens of laws expanding gun rights in recent years, sparking a rapid increase in gun ownership. Florida recently surpassed one million concealed weapons licenses, a milestone that was hailed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam just days after the Newtown shooting.
For its part, the National Rifle Association has blamed violent video games and films — not guns — for the string of mass shootings. Florida’s business-friendly tax code subsidizes those as well.
Violent video games and movies
As part of the White House’s push to come up with new anti-violence proposals, Vice President Joe Biden sat down this month with executives at video game companies that make graphic shooter games. In Florida, some of the companies attending Biden’s meeting are receiving millions of dollars in tax benefits, even as they develop some of the most violent video games on the market.
It’s part of a $300 million effort to lure entertainment companies into the state, and much of the money has gone to violent action films and video games now blamed for fueling real-life aggression and gun violence.
Popular first-person shooter games like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty and Halo have all been singled out. Corporations involved in producing those games each collect taxpayer benefits from the state of Florida.
While research is not definitive about the relationship between violent entertainment and real-life violence, some are calling for new measures to clean up what’s on the screen.
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said the “steady diet” of violence children consume through video games plays a major role in spurring real-life tragedies.
“Until we solve that problem and actually deal with legislation that would make selling or dispensing these exceedingly violent games to children [illegal], we’re going to continue to see this,” he said.