Beretta USA announced recently that the company will be moving the entirety of its manufacturing capability in its current Maryland location to new facilities in Tennessee. In a press release sent out by the gun maker, Beretta USA General Manager Jeff Cooper said that decision was a direct result of gun control laws passed by the Maryland legislature.
“During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world,” Cooper said. “While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the State.”
The Firearm Safety Act of 2013 included provisions that added over 40 new firearms to the Maryland’s list of prohibited “assault weapons,” banned the sale of any magazine capable of holding over 10 rounds, and required handgun buyers to submit to fingerprint licensing. Governor Martin O’Malley signed the act into law last year during a resurgence in the gun control debate. The legislation was hotly contested by the state’s gun makers, including Beretta, which at the time called the law an “insult” and “not acceptable.” Shortly after the law was passed, Beretta announced that it would be looking to expand to locations outside of Maryland. The company eventually settled on Gallatin, Tennessee.
Beretta first announced its $45 million expansion to Tennessee earlier this year, but made no comment on the effect that expansion would have on its facilities in Accokeek, Maryland. Cooper said that the Gallatin location, now under construction, was not originally intended to replace Beretta’s Maryland operations, but that later changed.
“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper said.
The transition is expected to begin in 2015, although Beretta’s production of M9 pistols for its military contracts will continue in Maryland until finished. Cooper added that the gun manufacturer will also be meeting with its Maryland employees to discuss relocation and other options.
“We have not yet begun groundbreaking on the Tennessee facility and we do not anticipate that that building will be completed until the middle part of 2015,” he said. “That timing, combined with our need to plan an orderly transition of production from one facility to the other so that our delivery obligations to customers are not disrupted, means that no Beretta U.S.A. Maryland employee will be impacted by this news for many months. More importantly, we will use this time to meet with every Beretta U.S.A. employee whose Maryland job might be affected by the move to discuss with them their interest in taking a position at our new facility in Tennessee or, if they are not willing to do so, to lay out a long-term strategy for remaining with the company while our production in Maryland continues.”
The new Gallatin facility will bring an estimated 300 jobs to Tennessee. Beretta is not expected to relocate its administrative office, which is also located in Maryland.
Image courtesy Jeffery Gabriel Jr./US Navy