Get ready for more jokes at South Carolina's expense. Same as it ever was.
"Connecticut firearms manufacturer PTR Industries will announce Monday that it has decided to move its operation to Horry County," reports The Sun News.
The Associated Press noted PTR Industries "is moving to South Carolina after Connecticut state lawmakers passed stricter gun control laws after the Sandy Hook School shootings."
There's a reputation for ya -- the state where gun manufacturers go when gun control laws get too strict elsewhere.
I don't think that reputation would be fair, but our news and entertainment radiates from New York City and Washington, D.C., so you can bet the reports of PTR Industries' move will be another opportunity for some to sneer southward.
But they really shouldn't sneer southward. The number of guns in a state does not correlate to the rate of murders by firearms.
Believe it or not, in 2011, nine other states had higher percentages of murders by firearms, including Connecticut, home of PTR Industries, where 73 percent of the murders were committed with guns (94 killed the year before Sandy Hook) -- even though only 16.7 percent of the population owns guns.
Stranger yet, in Illinois, 83 percent of the murders (or 377 killings) were committed with firearms, while only 20.2 percent of the population owns guns. We can probably guess the culprit.
Do some people really believe a higher number of guns per capita equals a higher rate of murders by guns? When advocating gun control legislation -- however reasonable and admirable those proposed laws might be -- some people talk as if more guns in a state must always mean more murders by firearm.
Obviously, other factors are involved. Population density seems to be one factor.
Wyoming's population is spread out a bit, and the countryside is a bit wilder. There, in 2011, firearms were involved in the murders of 11 people, or 73 percent of that year's murders in the state, while 59.7 percent of the population owns firearms.
Notice that both Connecticut and Wyoming, two very different states in very different regions, had the same percentage of murders committed by firearms, despite huge differences in guns per capita as well as population and population density.
Of course, you'd be completely reasonable also to say firearms make murder too easy.
You'd also be completely reasonable to say that any credible statistic can only demonstrate registered firearms.
Who knows how many unregistered "grandfathered" weapons or illegal guns are involved in killings.
But at least we can establish this: the number of guns per capita doesn't necessarily lead to a higher rate of murder-by-firearms.
Still, I wonder if gun manufacturing and gun ownership are going to become the new tobacco of the South. Will the justice system some day allow lawsuits against gun manufacturers because of the behavior of gun users?
Well, at least for now, PTR Industries' move to the Myrtle Beach area will bring some indirect economic stimulus.
Indirect, because the best-paid jobs will be maintained by employees who will move here from Connecticut, according to The Sun News report. Actually, most of the employees will move here, so hiring from within Horry County will be minimal.
Then again, the indirect benefits of having more consumers and taxpayers in the county should help.
-Colin Foote Burch