From the Washington Post:
On the production floor of Beretta USA sits a hulking new barrel-making machine ready to churn out the next object of obsession in America’s love-hate relationship with guns: a civilian version of a machine gun designed for special operations forces and popularized in the video game Call of Duty. …
But under an assault-weapons ban that advanced late last week in the Maryland General Assembly, experts say the gun would be illegal in the state where it is produced.
Now Beretta is weighing whether the rifle line, and perhaps the company itself, should stay in a place increasingly hostile toward its products. Its iconic 9mm pistol — carried by every U.S. soldier and scores of police departments — would also be banned with its high capacity, 13-bullet magazine.
“Why expand in a place where the people who built the gun couldn’t buy it?” said Jeffrey Reh, general counsel for Beretta.
Beretta is finally coming around to seeing that government contracts aren’t all there is in the business, and they can only get so many legislators to make them so many loopholes as a “state-approved” company for so long.
13 rounds isn’t high-capacity, it’s standard capacity; and the vast majority of them have 15 round magazines. That was one of the selling points that helped it replace the 1911.
Among other restrictions, O’Malley’s bill would ban assault rifles, magazines with more than 10 bullets and any new guns with two or more “military-like” features. Gun experts said it’s a near-certainty that Beretta’s semiautomatic version of the ARX-160, now only a prototype, would be banned under O’Malley’s bill.
“I’m concerned. I think they’re going to move,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert). “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.”
Citizen sales are no small part of their production – and there are plenty of regions of the country that are friendly to both business and guns.
“We literally are part of the arsenal of democracy,” said Reh, sweeping his hand toward the production floor, where on a recent afternoon more than 1,000 of the military version of the pistol sat in various stages of assembly. “That’s why we consider this so insulting.”
They’re starting to get it.
Of course, they can feel insulted all they want. To the left, they are ultimately evil unless totally state controlled. That they provide pistols for thousands of law enforcement officers, hundreds of thousands of US troops, and hundreds of thousands of citizens is meaningless to people who want to destroy the gun business because guns are bad.
The assault-weapons ban isn’t the only part of the governor’s bill Beretta dislikes.
In Maryland, gun manufacturers are required to register as firearms dealers, which some say could expose the company to lawsuits for selling and shipping weapons as dealers do. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which passed the governor’s bill 7 to 4 late Thursday, spelled out an exemption for Beretta and a handful of other smaller manufacturers in the state.
O’Malley aides say the bill could have outright banned manufacturing of assault weapons in the state but did not in part because of Beretta, which has agreed to meet with the administration on Monday to discuss the bill.
“We think getting assault weapons off the streets and keeping this company can both be accomplished,” said Raquel Guillory, O’Malley’s spokeswoman.
No, they can’t. And a $2000 modern rifle isn’t on “the streets” unless Obama’s ATF is giving it to Mexican narcoterrorist cartels. Those $2000 modern rifles end up in the hands of sport shooters, 3-gun shooters, collectors, Second Amendment advocates, hobbyists, and the kinds of folks who don’t do anything with them but shoot paper; and won’t ever do anything with those rifles unless government targets their owners for liquidation.
Beretta should know that this whole thing stinks of cronyism, which isn’t something an Old World company would be unfamiliar with at all. They may get favors now, but they won’t in the future. As they note in the story, there are lawsuits that don’t necessarily exempt Beretta. Long a tactic of the anti-rights forces, the left wants to be able to sue manufacturers for making products that only hurt people when misused criminally. They want to sue for liability when criminals use guns as a method to destroy gun companies. It’s what they do.
Beretta may get a niche carved out for it here in legislation because of the jobs it provides, but Beretta will also be looking at the fact that loophole they’re in will be tightened gradually. They are the frog, and Maryland is going to boil them. To the left, arms only belong in the hands of the state and leftist terrorists like Bill Ayers. There is no place in their world for weapons. Theirs is an impossible utopia of gun free zones where women use whistles and ball-point pens to fend off attackers because they hate guns so much they would rather women be raped than defend themselves.
Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s), whose district encompasses the Accokeek plant, said he would do everything he could for the company.
“We want to keep those jobs,” said Vallario, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has a key role in approving the legislation.
He cares nothing for the company. He cares about the job losses. If he cared about the company, he’d oppose infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. If Beretta turned to nothing but a state-owned, state-run, state-controlled entity that makes weapons solely for the jack-booted thugs of the state, he wouldn’t care. That they are still nominally a free company with the ability to leave means he wants them to not take their jobs out of state – and decimate the supply chain that supports them when they move.
The company’s Italian patriarch, Ugo Gussalli Beretta, visited the plant shortly after O’Malley introduced his gun-control bill, and the two discussed the issue. But Reh declined to say if the two reached any decisions about what would happen if the governor’s bill passes.
“All I can tell you is, Mr. Beretta said, ‘There always seems to be a problem with Maryland.’ ”
Beretta probably isn’t moving. Italian gun regulations have gotten worse in many ways in the last few years, and Beretta is already used to dealing with governments that are slightly more despotic than Maryland. It would be nice to see them get sick of it and move, though. Their company would benefit from a regulatory climate that isn’t ideologically out for their blood, they’d probably benefit from a better tax structure, and they could avoid a legal climate that’s also out for their blood.
Magpul will move. That’s a sign in the industry that things are serious. If Beretta moves, that’s a paradigm shift in the industry. Their competitors won’t sit and wait for the noose to tighten or to play cronyism games with politicians who will stab them in the back, and there will be an exodus of firearms jobs out of their historical homes in the industrial northeast.