Late last month, firearm manufacturer Beretta announced that it will not expand operations in Maryland, where it has operated a manufacturing hub for 35 years. In an open letter this week, Ugo Gussalli Beretta, CEO and president of the company, explained that Maryland’s disrespect for gun rights was the reason for the decision.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) recently advocated and signed a strict new gun law in the State, called the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, despite Beretta’s warnings that he would not expand operations in a State where his employees are unable to purchase the products they manufacture.
The law, which the Governor billed as “a balance between protecting the safety of law enforcement and our children, and respecting the traditions of hunters and law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns for self-protection,” bans the sale of 45 types of semiautomatic rifles, limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds, requires fingerprinting for handgun purchases and allows State police to audit gun dealers.
Beretta said that the passage of the law was a slap in the face for his company and American firearm owners.
He wrote in his letter:
In return for our investment in jobs, facilities and assistance to the local economy, we ask for respect and a supportive business climate.
We deserve such respect. We make the standard sidearm for the U.S. armed forces. We also make firearms that police and consumers use to save their lives and the lives of others.
We also make sporting firearms that are enjoyed by tens of millions of people worldwide, from Olympic shooters to weekend hunters.
Our business has grown in recent years, and because of that, we needed to expand production in our U.S facility, located in Accokeek, just outside of Washington, D.C., in the Maryland suburbs.
Unfortunately, as we were planning that expansion, Maryland’s governor and legislature voted in favor of new regulations that unfairly attack products we make and that our customers want.
These regulations also demean our law-abiding customers, who must now be fingerprinted like criminals before they can be allowed to purchase one of our products.
We have seen these types of legislative proposals in Maryland before, and they never seem to reduce crime. Maybe this is because the proponents of such legislation blame the product instead of human misconduct.
But in any event, because of these new restrictions and the pattern of harassment aimed at lawful firearm owners we have seen in Maryland over the decades, we decided to expand our facilities in a state that shows more respect for citizens who exercise their Second Amendment rights.
Following the passage of the law, Beretta representatives visited 80 potential sites for expansion in seven States with friendlier firearm laws. Eventually, the company decided to construct its $45 million manufacturing and research and development facility in an industrial area in Gallatin, Tenn.
Beretta explained the pick thusly:
We chose Tennessee because the governor and legislators in that state understand what it means to support businesses (such as through job recruitment and training programs) that improve employment in the state without treating companies as a necessary evil.
We chose Tennessee also because the vast majority of its residents and their elected officials have shown that they respect and honor the American tradition of personal freedoms, including the right to bear arms.
Beretta isn’t the first manufacturer of firearm products in the Nation to move operations out of a State with overreaching gun regulations.
Last month, firearm accessory company Magpul announced that it secured new manufacturing and distribution facilities in Cheyenne, Wyo., and will move its corporate headquarters to one of three locations under consideration in northern Texas in response to new Colorado gun laws.
“Moving operations to states that support our culture of individual liberties and personal responsibility is important,” Magpul CEO Richard Fitzpatrick said. “This relocation will also improve business operations and logistics as we utilize the strengths of Texas and Wyoming in our expansion.”