An Iowa college known for liberal activism is welcoming an unlikely neighbor: one of the nation's largest suppliers of high-capacity ammunition magazines and accessories for assault rifles and other guns.
With demand for gun products booming, Brownells Inc. is building a large distribution and retail center along Interstate 80 in Grinnell. The central Iowa city of 9,100 is home to Grinnell College, a selective liberal arts institution proud of its commitment to social justice.
Critics have attacked the company for profiting from accessories for military-style weapons, but the city and college are rolling out the welcome mat. It's an example of how left-leaning politics and gun rights can coexist cheerfully, particularly when economic benefit enters the equation.
"I think it is going to be fantastic for the community," said Juli Sanford, owner of Juli's Natural Foods, which sells organic food and supplements a block from the college. She said the project will bring jobs, income and visitors to Grinnell, located about 55 miles east of Des Moines.
But the development is galling to gun-control advocates, who have watched cities and states continue to compete for firearms-related businesses despite mass shootings they hoped would bring more criticism for the industry.