Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed an infamous law earlier this month, outlawing more than 40 different firearms which are considered assault weapons (including the popular AR-15), prohibiting the sale of magazines carrying more than 10 rounds and requiring prospective buyers to undergo fingerprint licensing.
One of the most prominent voices against the law was the Beretta USA factory in Accokeek, Maryland. The company released a statement in which they put “The resulting law that passed is not acceptable, even with the improvements we were able to obtain. In short, the law that finally passed went from being atrocious to simply being bad.”
With no definite plans for the future announced, representatives of the company said that the current Beretta facility will not be relocated, writes Baltimore Sun. On the other hand, the Sun also reports the company is considering alternate locations for three planned expansion operations.
The decision of Maryland was not the first state that have reached to stricter gun-control measures, to the great discontent of many gun owners and manufacturers. While some of southern and western states are trying to stay away from stricter gun-ownership policies, some states in the East and Northeast seem to follow the Federal policy, moving in opposite directions. Meanwhile, gun makers like Beretta are taking note and considering options.
Some of the most notorious are the laws like New York’s, that prevent gun owners from purchasing magazines that hold more than seven rounds, or Connecticut’s, where any owner of a high-capacity magazine must register with the state.
Truth to be told, Beretta’s intention to move operations isn’t the first. Several arms makers, including PTR and Colt, both being old Connecticutians, threatened to relocate within a year after the state enforced what they considered aggressive gun-control measures.
The problem arises if other gun makers follow the example. States have introduced over 1,500 gun-related bills since January, 2013, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization tasked with creating government openness and transparency. Although that number mixes strengthening and weakening gun-related laws, the agency says that about 50 have become laws this year. There is a page on its website, where visitors can track gun legislation in every state and look up fast facts and other data.
Beretta USA is a subsidiary of a 500-year-old company, which employs more than 330 people and has an average $220 million in U.S. sales annually and another $150 million a year from a military contract to supply its M9 pistol, making it a fairly attractive acquisition for any state’s economy—West Virginia and Virginia are reportedly two early suitors.
Meanwhile in Maryland, Beretta and the National Rifle Association are planning to file a lawsuit against the new gun law, while state representatives that opposed the bill are leading petition drives to put reverse legislation on the ballot for voters to overturn in a referendum.
Beretta COO Jeff Cooper is still uncertain of the company’s future. He expressed his discontent with the state on record with guns.com and explained what it means to evaluate relocating.
“It is a delicate decision. What’s clear at this point is that the state of Maryland is not friendly to this industry,” he said. “This [legislation] comes at a time when Beretta has plans for growth. Our footprint, manufacturing, people and equipment—we have large growth initiatives in place for the next two- to three-year horizon. . . In light of the way the legislation is heading, rewarding Maryland with that type of growth is difficult to digest.”
What do you think—should Beretta stay or should it take those jobs elsewhere?