After announcing the gun factory’s move from Accokeek, Md. to Gallatin, Tenn. in early 2016, Beretta USA explains why.
Located 20 miles south of Washington, D.C., the Beretta USA factory has called Maryland its home since the 1970s. In fact, its close proximity to the capital is highlighted as one of the reasons that the U.S. Army’s standard-issue sidearm, the Beretta M9, became so prominent.
However, the recent political scene in Maryland worried Beretta USA’s leadership, especially following the legal action taken in the state following the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. The new gun laws, including the restriction on military-style semiautomatic rifles and high capacity magazines, will essentially make Beretta’s classic M9 pistol illegal in the state were the factory to stay.
The city of Gallatin, Tennessee, however, is delighted in the news that the gun factory is leaving Maryland and welcomed the “$45 million factory with open arms and $4 million in incentives, including 100 acres of land and a 10-year tax abatement.” This financial package was a huge victory for Beretta, and so the company jumped at the chance.
However, the move toward a Southern state began when Beretta’s patriarch, Ugo Gussalli Beretta, asked the lead lawyer for Beretta USA, Jeff Reh, to “identify the most consistently pro-Second Amendment states in the country” for the purpose of “[putting the factory in a state] where I don’t have to worry about it, or my sons don’t have to worry about it, or even my grandkids.”
This 100-year outline of the company was crushed by Maryland’s actions following the 2012 incident in Connecticut when former governor and current Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O’Malley passed the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 that “target[ed] assault weapons, banning 45 guns and limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds.” Therefore, the 15 round-holding M9 is excluded from entry in the state of Maryland, along with Beretta’s classic ARX 100, a semiautomatic rifle, and pistol-gripped shotguns.
Jeff Reh also stated that the company valiantly lobbied to change the law in the last few years so that the company could keep its production in the state, regardless of the laws preventing private citizens from owning the product. However, he also stated that, in turn, “With the stroke of a pen, our ability to manufacture products for the armed forces, or police, or even civilians, could be blocked.”
It is with this reason that Tennessee was chosen, and the economic development director of Gallatin, James Fenton, now believes that O’Malley, “the former governor of Maryland is [his] best friend for passing that legislation even though [they] have never met.”
This is due in part to the economic boom the factory will bring to Gallatin, employing about 300 factory employees, though the “sales, marketing, legal, and customer service staff will stay in Maryland.”