GUN-CONTROL LAWS ; W.Va. Woos Beretta USA; Maryland Arms Maker Unhappy with Gun Bill in That State's Legislature

By Witte, Brian | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), March 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

GUN-CONTROL LAWS ; W.Va. Woos Beretta USA; Maryland Arms Maker Unhappy with Gun Bill in That State's Legislature


Witte, Brian, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


ANNAPOLIS, Md. - As a far-reaching gun-control measure aims to ban assault weapons in Maryland, neighboring states are trying to woo away a Beretta factory, whose employees would be unable to buy some of its products.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller noted Friday that senators changed the bill with Beretta in mind, but he said the company still isn't happy.

"We have, I think, helped the company as best we possibly can, in terms of them continuing to be able to do business in the state of Maryland," Miller said. "We've allowed them to manufacture. We've allowed them to sell and we've cut back on their paperwork."

However, West Virginia and Virginia are looking to capitalize on the company's dissatisfaction with the changes.

On Thursday, West Virginia House Speaker Rick Thompson said he had written to Beretta to offer West Virginia as a suitable location because it's "where the people understand and care about your industry."

Thompson said West Virginia has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the country, behind only Alaska, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. He also said that it would not support gun-control measures such as those being discussed in Maryland.

"This, combined with the state's long support of the Second Amendment and our close proximity to your current headquarters, makes us an excellent choice for Beretta USA in your relocation efforts," Thompson wrote.

Earlier in the week, Republican Virginia lieutenant-governor candidate and investment company executive Pete Snyder wrote to the company touting Virginia's favorable tax and gun climate. Beretta already has a facility in Fredericksburg, and Snyder said he could promise that Beretta "would be welcomed with open arms in all parts of the Commonwealth."

Plus, he added, it was Virginian James Madison who penned the nation's Bill of Rights, including the right to bear arms.

"In Virginia, we have a tradition of respect for the right to bear arms, and a robust culture of firearms-ownership for sport, for defending ourselves and our property, and for the best reason of all: because it is our right," he wrote to a Beretta executive Tuesday.

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