By Dave Workman,
The firearms community has reacted favorably to the announcement by Beretta U.S.A. that it is moving its manufacturing activities from Accokeek, MD, to a new production facility in Gallatin, TN, and the reason was bluntly explained in a press release from the company.
Maryland’s potential for passing even more restrictive gun laws than it adopted last year are driving the company out, confirmed company spokesman Jeff Reh in a telephone interview with W&G. He noted that the company’s administrative offices will remain in Accokeek, where Beretta owns a building. Sister company Benelli, which markets Franchi and Stoeger firearms but does not manufacture any guns, will remain in Maryland, Reh confirmed.
But the company is making no secret that gun laws passed last year and the prospect of more restrictions compelled Beretta to consider its future as an American manufacturer. “During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013,” General Manager Jeff Cooper stated, “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 Maryland Gun Law Concerns Pushing Beretta to Tennessee world. 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.”
According to Beretta, the production transition from Maryland to Tennessee will not occur until next year. It will be managed, the company said, “so as not to disrupt deliveries to Beretta customers.” Production of the military M9 9mm pistol will continue at Accokeek “until all current orders from the U.S. Armed Forces have been filled,” the company said.
Beretta is not the first company to be pulling stakes over onerous gun laws. Last year in Colorado, Magpul moved its major operations out of the Centennial State after the legislature passed gun control laws against heavy opposition from the public and law enforcement. Its manufacturing went to Cheyenne, WY. Several New York based gun companies, including Remington Arms, have moved, or are in the process of moving from the Empire State in the wake of the enactment of the SAFE Act.
Larry Keane, vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told W&G that Beretta’s move is yet another signal of anti-gun activism in state legislatures. “It’s another example of the consequences of trampling on the Second Amendment,” Keane said, “by banning the most popular rifle and standard sized magazines knowing full well it will do nothing to make our communities safer. It is not without economic consequences.”
Nearly a year ago, the Daily Caller ran down the list of companies that already were moving all or parts of their operations to more friendly environments. Gun friendly states have been energetically recruiting firearms manufacturers to move. Cooper noted that ground has not been broken for the Tennessee facility, and the new building may not be ready until the middle of next year. In the meantime, the legendary company will continue delivering firearms to customers without interruption.
He also noted, “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.” Reh said about 160 positions will move from Maryland to Tennessee, while about 95 administrative positions will remain in Maryland. One reason for remaining is due to its proximity with Washington, D.C. where Beretta works with various agencies, including the Pentagon, with which it has contracts. According to Reh, last year’s original gun control legislation was so onerous that it could have put the company into something of a shutdown by Oct. 1 of last year.W&G