Murray State College Breaks Ground, New Gunsmithing Building
October 18, 2023
On Thursday, October 17, Murray State College held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new gunsmithing education facility to be located on their campus in Tishomingo.
“Today, we celebrate making history for our college and state,” said Dr. Tim Faltyn, Murray State College President. “With a bachelor’s degree in place, Murray State College will provide the most comprehensive training in gunsmithing and custom gunmaking in the United States.”
Along with President Faltyn, Speaker of the House Charles McCall, Representative Kevin Wallace, Senator Roger Thompson, Chancellor Allison Garrett, Murray State Board of Regent Chair Allen Benson and Murray State gunsmithing student Tate Gruenwald provided remarks.
Oklahoma Speaker of the House and District 22 Representative Charles McCall remarked, “This would not be possible without the local control of the Murray State Board of Regents. The best ideas start at ground zero, and are grown and sorted there before making their way to Oklahoma City.”
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved Murray State’s request to offer the first and only Bachelor of Applied Technology degree in Gunsmithing in America. In April 2023, with that approval, Murray State became the first independent legislatively-created state college in Oklahoma history to be granted the authority to offer bachelor’s degrees.
Representative Kevin Wallace, House District 32, spoke to the importance of this investment as Oklahoma works to attract firearm manufacturers to the state. “As a second amendment state that wants the business of these companies, it is befitting that we have the best gunsmith program in the nation to feed their workforce pipeline.”
In May 2023, the state of Oklahoma invested $10 million to construct a state-of-the-art education facility to accommodate the growth of the current associate’s degree programs, as well as the newest bachelor’s degree program.
“Work was done between the state chambers to see this project funded,” said Senator Roger Thompson, Senate District 8. “I was proud to work alongside my colleagues in the house for the benefit of Murray State College and the state of Oklahoma.”
“We appreciate the work of our state leaders and the Department of Commerce to recruit additional businesses to the state that will provide jobs for our skilled graduates,” noted Murray State’s longest serving regent and this year’s chairman, Regent Allen Benson. “Murray State College will be recognized as the premier site for gunsmithing education in the United States.”
Murray State Gunsmithing Club President and Student Government Association Representative Tate Gruenwald spoke about his experience. “I would personally like to thank program chair Chad Mercer and all of the gunsmithing faculty for guiding me and my classmates as we’ve navigated this program and honed our skills to excel in the firearm industry. I’m excited to be among the first bachelor’s degree holders for this program and plan to open my own business after graduation.”
The college has a 91% job placement rate before graduation for its gunsmithing students.
“Our gunsmithing program isn’t just about curriculum,” said President Faltyn. “It’s about building a culture of reverence for firearms and cultivating self-responsibility for all who choose to be a safe and responsible gun owner.”
Murray State College has invested in upgrades to the on-campus firing range, serving as a test site for the program’s firearms, as well as a training location for the college’s shotgun team and local law enforcement. Community workshops are also held at the range to teach firearm safety, self-defense and more.
Various groups and organizations were represented: City of Tishomingo; Johnston County Industrial Authority; Murray State College Foundation; Colbert Trust managers from BancFirst; Senators Alvord and Kidd; Representative Cantrell; Congressional Field Representatives for Senators Mullens and Cole, and Representative Brecheen; Chickasaw Nation; Oklahoma Department of Commerce; Oklahoma Rifle Association; National Rifle Association; and many others.
The new gunsmithing facility is expected to be constructed by the summer of 2025.