Gun maker looks to expand in S. Royalton - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Gun maker looks to expand in S. Royalton

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"I thought it was good for the local economy. They are going to be creating jobs hopefully, so that will be good for around here," said Adam Lyman.

The Royalton resident says the prospect of 100 plus jobs from a new company in town could be a really good thing -- plus their product is something he and his dad have been collecting for years.  "A lot -- AK-47s, Ar-15s -- assault rifles," he said.

Green Mountain Defense Industries held a gun shoot on Sunday to teach the community about a new product they are bringing to town.  "What makes them different is a lot of our core components -- it's called RPIK: Reliability, Product, Improvement, Kit," explained the company's Seth Birch.

Birch said the company was contracted by the military to redesign parts of the AR-15 to improve rifle reliability. And after a year of work, the product is being sold to civilians. Birch said the weapons are versatile and can be used for sporting, competing and hunting.  "And all that is going to be done right here in Vermont. And we are a three to four man operation right now and obviously we are going to look to up that once we get into heavy production. Right now we are at low rate initial productions," he said.

Right now, the company is making 50 rifles a month. A national distributor has contracted with the company to sell the weapons. But Birch says the company is looking to expand and contract with local stores. At full capacity, GDMI can manufacture 1,000 guns every month. That scale of production could mean a big boon for the local economy.

The possible expansion comes as a national debate around gun rights continues -- inspired by a string of mass shootings across the country.   And although everyone seems to be on board with adding jobs in the area, not everyone is seeing eye-to-eye on the product itself.

"I think it is a no-brainer that there should be an increased level of concern, just based on the product that is intended to be manufactured," said Rep. Sarah Buxton (D-Tunbridge).

Buxton says although guns cannot be purchased directly from the South Royalton facility, she says there are major concerns about manufacturing up to 12,000 assault rifles each year. She argues that this is not the type of gun Vermonters use. "I think on the whole, when I've heard from folks in my community and around the state is when they are hunting -- they are not looking to use automatic or semi-automatic weapons," she said.

Birch says if and when the company expands into full production, making sure civilian buys go through national background checks is a priority.

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