The almost 500-year-old firearms manufacturer, Beretta, is considering leaving the state of Maryland because of unfriendly gun laws that advanced in the Maryland General Assembly last week.
According to the Washington Post, Beretta has invested more than $1 million in the production of a civilian version of a machine gun designed for special operations forces and has already made plans to expand its plant in Maryland to ramp up production. But with the new gun laws making their way through the legislative process, the expansion is in jeopardy.
But under an assault-weapons ban that advanced late last week in the Maryland General Assembly, experts say the gun would be illegal in the state where it is produced.
Now Beretta is weighing whether the rifle line, and perhaps the company itself, should stay in a place increasingly hostile toward its products. Its iconic 9mm pistol — carried by every U.S. soldier and scores of police departments — would also be banned with its high capacity, 13-bullet magazine.
“Why expand in a place where the people who built the gun couldn’t buy it?” said Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta.
The Maryland legislation would ban assault rifles, magazines with more than 10 bullets, and any new guns with two or more “military-like” features. The new rifle, a semiautomatic ARX-160, would almost certainly be banned.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D – Calvert) said, “I’m concerned. I think they’re going to move. They sell guns across the world and in every state in the union – to places a lot more friendly to the company than this state.”
This isn’t the first time Beretta has threatened and carried out a move; When Maryland upped gun restrictions in the 1990’s Beretta moved its warehouse operation to Virginia. “I think they thought we were bluffing,” Reh said. “But Berettas don’t bluff.”
One side note to consider: Seeing as how well Chicago has fared with its strict gun control laws, is this gun control legislation a little bit of grandstanding by Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley? His name has been floated around as a possible presidential nominee in 2016, so this gun control legislation could stamp his name on an explicitly liberal agenda. However, it looks like that agenda could come with an economic price – I can’t imagine he wants to push out all of those jobs. Welcome to the free market, Mr. O’Malley.