Firearms manufacturer Stag Arms LLC will relocate to Cheyenne by the end of 2019, Governor Mark Gordon's office announced Tuesday.

"Cheyenne came out on top on most of the individual criteria," said Elie Azar, the founder and CEO of the private equity firm which owns a controlling interest in the company. "And considering our requirements as a whole, it was by far the superior site."

Other firearms companies have recently moved into the state as well, including Weatherby, which moved from California to Sheridan last year. In 2014, Magpul relocated from Colorado to Cheyenne.

In a statement, Gordon touted the state's business-friendly environment as a major factor in such moves. He also noted that most residents have a favorable stance toward firearm ownership.

"I am pleased to welcome Stag Arms to Wyoming and to know that our state came out on top of a broad look at potential new homes for a sought-after company," Gordon said. "We have a deep-seated commitment to the Second Amendment that I will continue to uphold."

The announcement comes a day after Gordon released his budget proposal for the upcoming biennium. Regarding the largely bleak economic outlook for the mineral industry upon which Wyoming has historically depended for revenue, Gordon said Monday that the state would need to help bolster the private sector in order to grow its economy.

"I believe this announcement is an affirmation that Wyoming is continuing to cultivate a culture that allows private enterprise to flourish," Gordon said Tuesday. "My administration will work collaboratively with the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS to ensure Stag's move goes smoothly."

LEADS, the economic development organization for Cheyenne in Laramie County, started working with Stag Arms in June after reaching out to assist the company, which compared dozens of potential sites for relocation. LEADS assisted with site location, workforce evaluation and navigating the community, Gordon said Tuesday.

"Not only is Wyoming an incredibly hospitable place to do business, it is also a top destination for outdoor recreation, including hunting and shooting sports, which reflects its citizens' unwavering support for the Second Amendment," Azar said.

The Connecticut-based company was founded in 2003 by Mark Malkowski. In 2014, Forbes reported, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed up with search warrants and found a number of violations that resulted in a federal criminal case against Stag.

During a July 2014 compliance inspection, ATF agents found that "Stag had possession of a total of 62 machine guns and machine gun receivers that were registered to another entity, or were not registered at all."

The company had been cited by ATF in 2007 for a number of regulatory violations.

"What occurred in this case is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated," ATF Special in Charge Daniel J. Kumor said in a statement.

Stag, through Malkowski, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possession of a machine gun not registered to the company. Malkowski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to maintain proper firearm records.

The company agreed to pay a fine of $500,000, while Malkowski personally was fined $100,000. He agreed to leave the company and never again own, operate or manage a firearms company.

While ATF inspectors were able to reconcile most of the 3,000 improper firearm transfers using paperwork on site, 10% of those transfers could not be reconciled.

As of December 2015, authorities said roughly 200 firearms were reported as lost or stolen.

Dierdre M. Daly, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said, “It is critically important for those who are responsible for manufacturing firearms, especially high-powered semiautomatic rifles, to diligently comply with federal firearms laws throughout the production and distribution process. Stag’s misconduct has resulted in hundreds of these weapons being lost or untraceable. In addition, Stag’s possession of dozens of unregistered machine guns is particularly egregious.”

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