Beretta has no plans to leave, yet

Despite Beretta's threats that the company would leave Maryland if new gun laws were passed and signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley, Beretta USA has no current plans to abandon its headquarters in Prince George's County.

In a statement sent to The Baltimore Sun Monday, Beretta USA board member and general counsel Jeffrey K. Reh said the company would not let the new law interfere with completing its contract to supply the U.S. Army with pistols.


Although there are no immediate plans to halt operations at the company's manufacturing plant on the Potomac, Reh said the company is still evaluating whether to expand three other operations in Maryland in the wake of the law.

"The idea now of investing additional funds in Maryland and thus rewarding a Government that has insulted our customers and our products is offensive to us so we will take steps to evaluate such investments in other states," the statement read. "At the same time, we will continue our current necessary operations within Maryland and we are thankful for and welcome the continued support of our employees as we do so. "


Leaders from at least three other states have invited Beretta to move there.  About 300 people work at the company's Accokeek plant.

Among many other firearms, Beretta manufactures the Army's standard-issue M-9, a semi-automatic pistol with a 15-round magazine. Under the new law signed last week and scheduled to take effect in October, the civilian version of the M-9 and some assault-style rifles manufactured by Beretta could not be sold in Maryland gun shops.

Reh declined to answer questions or elaborate on the prepared statement. The statement also singled out House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph Vallario, a Democrat whose district includes the Accokeek plant, with stripping out portions of the bill Beretta found particularly objectionable.

The company first threatened to leave in February and argued earlier versions of the law would force the company to move its operations. Vallario oversaw the House committee that adopted amendments to scale-back the assault-weapons ban and make clear banned firearms could be manufactured for sale outside Maryland.

"The resulting law that passed is not acceptable, even with the improvements we were able to obtain," Reh wrote. "In short, the law that finally passed went from being atrocious to simply being bad."

The law, signed by O'Malley last week, bans the sale of 45 types of semi-automatic assault rifles, limits magazines to 10 bullets and creates a new fingerprinting and licensing system.  The law also makes it a crime to not report lost or stolen firearms to police, as well as ban the sale of semi-automatic pistols whose fixed magazines accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

While Reh did not specifically mention efforts to halt the law - the NRA has vowed to fight it in courts and a petition drive to put it to referendum is underway - he said that the company still needs to evaluate the effect the law will have on company operations before making a final decision on whether to leave the state.