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Beretta USA flees Maryland for greener pastures

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The gunmaker Beretta has announced it will be relocating its manufacturing facility in Prince Georges County, Maryland to a new facility in Gallatin, Tennessee. The move will cost Maryland 160 direct jobs plus an undetermined number of jobs related to the manufacturing jobs.

In the past, companies made this kind of decision based on finances. A manufacturing company fleeing a high-tax, high-regulation, closed-shop state for a low-tax, low-regulation, right-to-work state is hardly news. Beretta USA had been leaning that way for some time. The Gallatin facility represents a $45 million investment by the company and had been slated to house R&D and the manufacture new product lines.

What speeded Beretta USA on its way south was the Maryland legislature. Last year, the Maryland legislature passed a broad gun suppression law. In the words of Jeff Cooper, CEO of Beretta USA:

“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 in today’s news release.

“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 CEO of Beretta’s worldwide holding company, Ugo Gussalli Beretta, was more succinct:

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.

We chose Tennessee for our new facility expansion. Our plans for that location are extensive and long-lasting.

Beretta realized that even though it won concessions from the legislature last time around that would allow its Maryland facility to continue operations, it was just a matter of time until another law was passed. It decided to cut its losses and move.

With this Beretta USA joins a growing list of US firearms manufacturers who are voting with their feet in the face of political hostility. Remington, Kahr, and American Tactical Imports have announced plans to either move from New York or scale back operations there because the SAFE Act increased potential legal problems. Connecticut based gun manufacturers MossbergRuger, ColtStag Arms and PTR Industries have all announced plans to either shift operations or move to more friendly states. This could cost Connecticut 1,768 jobs, $13.5 million in business tax revenue and $450 million in economic activity.  The magazine maker, Magpul Industries has relocated its facilities and 200-plus jobs from Colorado to Texas.

This is not simply pique. Various studies have implied that increasingly Americans are choosing to live in communities that share their political views.

The survey shows that liberals and conservatives have self-segregating preferences, with many explicitly preferring to live around people with similar political views, and others expressing preferences that indirectly lead them toward communities dominated by their fellow partisans.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans say it’s important to live in a place where most people share their political views, including 50 percent of voters with consistently conservative beliefs and 35 percent of consistent liberals.

The move by Beretta USA and other firearms manufacturers shows how this happens. In the case of New York and Connecticut, the executives of those companies have every reason to anticipate being prosecuted by the state at some future time for engaging in commercial activity that would be legal in most of the rest of the United States. For instance:

During an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy had a telling response to criticism of a new state law that bans semiautomatic rifles and 10-round magazines and requires preexisting magazines to be registered.

“What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible — even if they’re deranged, mentally ill, [have] a criminal background, they don’t care,” said Malloy. “They want to sell guns.”

In a radio interview, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was similarly disdainful when asked if his state’s SAFE Act, which was passed just before midnight on January 15, 2013, is a burden to law-abiding gun owners and manufacturers.

“Who are they?” Cuomo asked rhetorically of his opposition. “Are they these extreme conservatives … pro-assault-weapon? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

The move by Beretta USA is simply a wake-up call. As the progressive dominated states become more and more hostile to all forms of economic activity, firearms manufacturers will be followed by other corporations to states with more economic freedom and they’ll take their jobs with them.

 

 

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