There are few names as well established in the firearm industry as Beretta, but now the Maryland gun maker is facing a difficult decision. Maryland’s state Senate approved one of the nation’s toughest gun bills earlier this month and the proposal heads to the governor, who advocated for the bill. With its passing almost a certainty, the Beretta USA factory in Accokeek is at a crossroads. Will the company follow in the steps of other industry names like Magpul and PTR in an exodus to more gun-friendly states? Or will Beretta stay where it is? The question is a difficult one.
“It is a delicate decision,” Jeff Cooper, Beretta’s General Manager and COO, told Guns.com. “What’s clear at this point is that the state of Maryland is not friendly to this industry.”
Much like nearby Colt Manufacturing in Connecticut, some states are making it difficult for gun makers. Both companies have been approached by other states with offers of relocation, but these venerable brands have roots dug deep. A move that displaces thousands of employees, not to mention business obligations, is not an easy decision to make.
“We have to take into consideration our people that are here that have been with us here for 35 years, and their families,” Cooper said.
There is also the matter of ongoing production at the factory. The new bill comes at an inopportune time for Beretta. The company is currently manufacturing the much heralded ARX 160 rifle, as well as the ever popular M9 pistol that is the standard sidearm of the U.S. armed forces. Beretta is currently in the middle of a new contract for the M9 which is set to start at the end of the year. However, Maryland’s gun control bill could make it difficult for state residents to purchase some Beretta products. If the bill is passed a number of measures will be enacted similar to other gun control laws around the country, including a 10 round magazine limit and bans of over forty “assault weapon” type firearms.
Beretta isn’t taking this lying down. Much like Colt, who closed down its factory so workers could make their voices heard at the Connecticut Capitol, Beretta is at the forefront in opposing the bill.
“We fought and fought hard,” Cooper said. “Any change that goes against Second Amendment is a bad law.” According to guns.com, the company managed to shoot down a proposed fingerprinting requirement in the bill, but that is only a partial victory.
Perhaps the most likely solution for Beretta is to build factories in other states while continuing their operation in Accokeek.
“Satellite production is in our best interest. It provides us diversity in the event that [Maryland] laws continue to change for the worse,” Cooper said. “We’re not going to rush, because we want to do it right.”
No official announcement has been made yet by the company. Maryland’s gun control bill still awaits Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature to be passed into law. Thousands of gun owners have poured into Annapolis since the debate began and some groups are threatening a lawsuit if the bill is passed, much like similar cases in New York.