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By Seth Johnson
A company whose roots in the firearms industry dates back nearly 500 years, to 1526 when Mastro Bartolomeo Beretta was paid 296 ducats for 185 barrels, is joining the rush to abandon Maryland.
Beretta has announced plans to move its complete production facility, and the 160 jobs, out of Maryland, over a gun control law passed in 2013 by the state in reaction to the Newtown school shooting, officials say.
In announcing plans to relocate production to Tennessee, Beretta said that the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 “would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the state products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world.”
The bill, known as SB21, requires gun purchasers to submit fingerprints to police and banned 45 different semi-automatic handguns and rifles from being owned or sold in the state, and is being challenged in federal court.
While guns routinely have that ominous look and create a powerful impression at news conferences, the FBI notes that only five people were killed with rifles in Maryland in 2012.
Maryland’s outgoing governor, Martin O’Malley, is rumored to be a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. He’s been a cheerleader for gun control and a number of other “progressive” wish list items.
However, there has been a cost.
“Under O’Malley and [Lt. Gov. Anthony] Brown, Maryland has lost 8,000 businesses and unemployment has nearly doubled,” said Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for governor. “In fact, 26 percent of our manufacturing base, and with it 25,000 jobs, has disappeared; today, Maryland is dead last in the nation in manufacturing.”
Change Maryland, a grassroots group founded by Hogan, said there have been 24 tax and fee increases that have removed an additional $2.4 billion annually from the state economy.
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and the author of the New York Times bestselling book “Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All,” believes the loss of Beretta is another example of politics, emotion and ambition trumping good policy.
“Maryland has become liberal Disneyland. It’s become an amusement park for liberals where every bad experiment is tried,” he said.
Bongino, a Republican candidate for Congress from Maryland’s Sixth District, doesn’t think politicians backing gun restrictions are the least bit concerned about losing the prestige of housing a company like Beretta, or the tax and spending revenue that its employees brought to their communities.
“I’m sure Maryland liberals will say ‘good riddance;’ they’ll all smile as we go broke together,” he said.
Brown, the Democrat nominee for governor, released a statement through his campaign, saying, “We worked with Beretta on this issue, but it’s clear they never planned on staying in Maryland which is disappointing. At the end of the day, we understand why a gun manufacturer would oppose common sense gun safety measures.”
Beretta is not the only firearms manufacturer to consider uprooting its operations in favor of a more favorable business and political climate. Magpul is in the process of abandoning Colorado after the state’s controversial gun restrictions were adopted by the Democrat-controlled legislature.
A ripple effect was voter decisions to eject from office two of the leaders of that move, through the recall process. Another high profile Democrat there hurriedly resigned when targeted by another recall, because her resignation allowed her party to pick a replacement, whereas her loss in a recall would have turned the majority of the state Senate over to the GOP.
Kahr Arms also is moving some of its production to Pennsylvania, and PTR Industries and Stag Arms are leaving Connecticut for South Carolina following the passage of stringent anti-gun laws in the wake of the Newtown shooting.
Bongino, who spent 12 years as a Secret Service agent and during his time there guarded President Obama, is the author of the New York Times bestselling book “Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All,” which offers an intimate look at life inside the presidential “bubble,” a haze of staffers, consultants, cronies, acolytes, bureaucrats and lobbyists that creates the “alternate reality” in which monumental policy decisions are made.
And it is the story of a dedicated Secret Service professional who, after years inside the “bubble,” walked away in favor of sounding a clarion call to the American people in defense of sane government and the U.S. Constitution.
“I walked away because I swore to take a bullet for the president and left it all behind to take a bullet for the American people,” Bongino said.