Gun manufacturer Beretta shuns Maryland to open new plant in gun-friendly Tennessee

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, January 30, 2014

Beretta, the Italian gun manufacturer whose American operations are based out of Maryland, has decided to expand outside of the Old Line State and build its newest manufacturing and research facility in the more gun-friendly state of Tennessee.

The company cited Tennessee’s support of gun rights as a major factor in its decision to move its new facilities to the state. Tennessee won the bid over Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

“We started our search by looking only at States that have a consistent history of support for and likelihood of future support for Second Amendment rights,” Jeff Reh, a member of Beretta USA Corp.’s board of directors, said in a press conference Wednesday.

Reh, who led the search for the new plant site, added that there were several other states considered that “respect Second Amendment rights” but just “didn’t have the type of support that we saw in Tennessee.”

Also present at the press conference were Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Franco Gussalli Beretta, the company’s executive vice president and director, and several local legislators and officials. The $45 million plant, which will be located in the Nashville suburb of Gallatin, is expected to bring 300 new jobs to the area and open later this year.

“From the moment when we started to consider a location outside of the state of Maryland for our manufacturing expansion, Gov. Haslam and his economic development team did an excellent job demonstrating the benefits of doing business in Tennessee,” Beretta added. “We are convinced we could find no better place than Tennessee to establish our new manufacturing enterprise.”

The company’s decision to leave Maryland stemmed from the debate over – and then passage of – a series of new gun control laws passed last spring, among which are an assault weapons ban, restrictions on magazine capacity and mandatory fingerprinting to buy a handgun. Shortly after Beretta made its decision to look elsewhere, several other states – including neighboring West Virginia and Virginia – offered to take the company in.

Beretta will leave its current operations – including its headquarters – in place in Maryland, at least for the time being.

While Maryland and several other states passed sweeping gun control laws last year, Tennessee actually relaxed its restrictions on handguns, allowing people with carry permits to store firearms in their vehicles statewide. The state Senate is also in the process of voting on a proposal that would take the power to decide whether firearms could be allowed in public parks away from local governments.

Established in 1526, Beretta is one of the oldest family owned gun manufacturers in the world. The company produces a wide range of rifles and pistols, as well as hunting apparel and accessories. Beretta USA Corp., which was founded in 1977, supplies the standard sidearm to the United States Armed Forces.

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