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Ithaca Gun forced to close its doors

Ithaca Gun Co., a pillar in the production of firearms since 1880, shut down shortly after moving to Auburn, a company official said Tuesday.
“We’re just tapped out, we can’t do it any longer,” said Ithaca’s Andrew Sciarabba, one of seven investors who own the company.
Sciarabba said Ithaca Gun was several hundred thousand dollars in debt and was unable to compete profitably against foreign gun manufacturers.
The investors are hoping to find someone interested in buying the company’s well-known name and resuming production in Central New York, he said.
“We’re looking for someone to start up the business again, but I don’t know if that is going to happen or not,” Sciarabba said.
The demise of Ithaca Gun triggers potentially bad news for Cayuga County, which loaned $150,000 to the firm for operating expenses last fall when it had about 26 employees.
The county loaned the money from its federally funded business assistance revolving loan fund, said county Planning Director David Miller, who in his position oversees the loan program.
The company put up its equipment as collateral for the money, but had missed its May and June loan payments totaling $986.30, Miller said.
County Legislature Chairman Herbert Marshall, who sits on the committee that approved loaning the money, said he would prefer that the county work with the company in finding a buyer rather than seizing the equipment used as collateral.
“If there is the possibility to protect our financial interest and keep them running, that would be the best final solution,” Marshall said.
In late April and early May, Ithaca Gun relocated to the former Johnston Paper Co. building in Auburn’s tech park off Division Street. On Tuesday, there were two cars in the parking lot and a company van without license plates.
Prior to moving, the company had operated out of the former King Ferry Central School building since 1989.
Ithaca Gun opened for business at the base of Ithaca Falls in 1880 and forged a reputation for making affordable and durable shotguns like the Deerslayer and Deerslayer II slug guns and Model 87 field shotguns. Every part was hand-polished.
“Ithaca has been a well-established name in the firearms industry for a long time,” said Gary Mehalik, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newtown, Conn., a trade association for firearms manufacturers.
“The price was affordable, the quality good and they were nostalgic favorites. I imagine there are grandfathers who shot their first deer or duck with one of those guns and gave them to their grandchildren and those guns still work,” Mehalik said.
Sciarraba said his group of investors acquired Ithaca Gun out of bankruptcy in the mid-1990s. He said the group put an undisclosed amount of money into the business every year, but “never made any money.”
The gun company also owed several years worth of back excise taxes to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, he said.
Gun manufacturers have to pay an 11 percent excise tax on rifles and shotguns and 10 percent tax on handguns, Mehalik said.
Auburn Mayor Timothy Lattimore was saddened to learn of the news. He used to hunt pheasants with an Ithaca shotgun.
“It’s unfortunate that a legacy such as Ithaca Gun, one of the premier gun manufacturers in the world, is out of business,” he said.
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