West Virginia and Virginia are trying to woo a Beretta factory away from Maryland, where a new, far-reaching gun-control measure could keep even the company's employees from buying some of the products they make.
The bill will allow Beretta to keep making guns, sell them and will cut back on the company's paperwork, said Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who represents the district where the factory is located.
The Democratic senator, who has accepted some $12,000 in campaign contributions from Beretta through the years, said Friday lawmakers kept Beretta in mind. But the gunmaker is still not pleased over the legislation, reports Fox News, and neighboring states hope to cash in on the company's displeasure.
West Virginia House Speaker Rick Thompson said Thursday he wrote to Beretta to offer the company a home “where the people understand and care about your industry.”
West Virginia has some of the highest gun ownership rates in the nation, ranking behind only Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming, and the West Virginia Democrat said his state would not go for gun-control laws like those in Maryland.
In Virginia, Pete Snyder, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and an investment company executive, wrote to Beretta to tout his state's favorable tax and gun laws.
Beretta has a factory already in Fredericksburg, and Snyder said he would promise the company would be welcomed throughout his state, where “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.”
Jeff Reh, who is on the Beretta U.S.A. Corp.'s Board of Directors, testified last month that Beretta has two other companies that import or sell weapons, and altogether, the companies employ about 400 people. Beretta has also paid Maryland around $31 million in taxes from 1997 to 2014, said Reh, but the state isn't supporting it with the new law, which bans assault rifles, limits magazine sizes and requires background checks.
"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," Reh said. "It is worth noting that these states also do not try to blame a product for human misconduct."
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