Hacker Martin lived in Washington County, Tennessee where he built and operated a gristmill. (You can now see that gristmill at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris.) He used his mechanical skills to make rifles from scratch, “lock, stock and barrel.” He became one of our country’s most admired gunmakers. It was said that a gun collection without a Hacker Martin gun was incomplete.

Ronnie Barrett reminds me of Hacker Martin. At the age of 27, Ronnie used his innate mechanical skills to build his first gun from scratch. He started the company after inventing the first shoulder-fired .50 caliber rifle, and has built his company to more than 100 employees. Barrett Firearms Manufacturing also supports about 200 jobs at other companies.

With Beretta moving its headquarters from Maryland to our state, Tennessee is home to an expanding gun industry that mirrors another important source of jobs that are helping to raise family incomes: the auto industry.

There’s one crucial difference. Unlike the gun industry, nobody is legislating to put the auto industry out of business. Ronnie pointed out that cars, like guns, sometimes get used by bad people to commit crimes — but nobody tries to outlaw cars every time they’re used in a crime.

I agree with Ronnie, and I’m proud of my A rating with the National Rifle Association. The gun industry is creating lots of good jobs in Tennessee, and we need to keep Washington from infringing upon our Second Amendment rights.

If you need proof, look no further than Barrett in Murfreesboro.