The world’s oldest firearms manufacturer has come a long way in Maryland, but not without hiccups. When Maryland tightened gun restrictions under the Clinton administration, Beretta uprooted its warehouse to Virginia, and it seems a similar situation might play out now.
Recently Governor Martin O’Malley presented the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 to the state’s General Assembly. The proposed act would, among other things, ban the sale of so-called “assault weapons” and cap magazine size at 10 rounds. If passed, it could force part or all of Beretta’s operation in the state elsewhere. According to the Washington Post, the legislation by Governor O’Malley could disrupt the manufacture of Beretta’s much anticipated semi-automatic ARX-160 rifle.
“The reasons for the ban being considered are understandable,” said Beretta director Jeff Reh in a testimony. “They are also misguided.”
Beretta USA’s factory sits snuggly in Accokeek besides the Potomac River, where the atmosphere is immersed in the culture and making of guns. The company employs roughly 400 people in the state and has given $31 million in taxes to Maryland in the past seven years. Investments made by the company affect thousands of people in the state. The departure of Beretta will be noticeably felt.
“In Italy, Beretta has existed continuously in the same small town for almost 500 years,” said Reh. “The Beretta family started its investment in Accokeek in the late 1970s and the history of the family is to show commitment to the community in which it locates its businesses.”
The Accokeek location also manufactures the Beretta M9 pistol that is the standard sidearm for nearly every soldier in the U.S. armed forces.
“I’m concerned. I think they’re going to move,” Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) commented. “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.”