Beretta USA in Maryland is thinking of pulling up stakes and moving out of the state because of pending assault-weapons ban legislation. Beretta USA is a division of Beretta, the 500-year-old family owned company which won a contract in 1985 to become the standard sidearm of all U.S. servicemen, replacing the Colt 45.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has offered a bill that would ban assault rifles and magazines with more than 10 bullets, meaning Beretta’s famous 9mm pistol, which has a 13 bullet magazine, would be banned. New sidearms that possessed “military features” would also be included, which means Beretta’s semiautomatic version of the ARX-160 would likely be banned.
Beretta USA has expressed frustration that the state where the guns are produced would disallow its citizens from owning the guns. Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta, said, “Why expand in a place where the people who built the gun couldn’t buy it?”
State lawmakers are genuinely concerned that Beretta will leave; 300 jobs could be lost. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said, “I’m concerned. I think they’re going to move. 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.”
Reh has warned the legislators, citing the 1990’s move toward increased gun restrictions which prompted Beretta to transfer its warehouse operation to Virginia. Reh said, “I think they thought we were bluffing. But Berettas don’t bluff.”