POLITICS

‘Berettas don’t bluff,’ gun maker warns Maryland

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Photo - BRIDGEPORT, CT - DECEMBER 22:  A woman holds a Beretta pistol at a gun buyback event at the Bridgeport Police Department's Community Services Division on December 22, 2012 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT - DECEMBER 22: A woman holds a Beretta pistol at a gun buyback event at the Bridgeport Police Department's Community Services Division on December 22, 2012 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Politics Digest,Michal Conger

Maryland’s legislature is weighing a gun control package that would impose aggressive restrictions on Maryland gun owners, and gun maker Beretta U.S.A. is warning the bill would drive more than guns from the state, Red Alert Politics reports.

Beretta, located in Accokeek, employs around 400 people at any time, a representative said during testimony before the Maryland legislature this month, and won’t hesitate to take those jobs elsewhere if the state passes a ban on the rifles it makes. The Washington Post reports that Maryland would lose about 300 jobs if Beretta leaves.

Jeff Reh, general counsel for Beretta, said in his Feb. 7 testimony that the company has always showed commitment to its community. Beretta’s Accokeek-based group of companies have paid $31 million in Maryland taxes, and invested or plans to invest $73 million in Maryland, he said. But Reh warned a ban on Beretta’s products could drive it to a friendlier climate.

“That commitment is not one-sided, though, and deserves the respect of a corresponding commitment from the local community and from the state Government,” he said. “Instead, we are confronted with a state government that wants to ban our products at a time, by the way, when numerous other state governments are courting our investment. It is worth noting that these other states also do not try to blame a product for human misconduct.”

If it passes, Maryland’s gun control bill could make illegal not only for Beretta to sell its products in Maryland, but also to export them to other states, Reh said.

He warned lawmakers not to take the gunmaker’s warnings lightly, reminding them that when Maryland tightened gun restrictions in the 1990s, the company moved its warehouse operation to Virginia.

“I think they thought we were bluffing,” Reh said. “But Berettas don’t bluff.”

Not only would the bill be a business-killer, but it may even be unconstitutional, Reh added.

“From a constitutional point of view, we see SB 281 as tantamount to a legislative  effort to ban certain books,” he said. “That might seem like a provocative statement but the parallels are apt. The possession and use of firearms and printed materials are both protected by the Constitution.”

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