The firearms manufacturer made the decision to scratch Virginia off the list after the McAuliffe campaign fixated on restricting gun owners’ rights after receiving over $1 million in campaign donations from billionaire New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“The anti-gun ads that McAuliffe ran in northern Virginia were particularly offensive,” Jeff Reh, general counsel of Beretta USA, told me in an interview. “And the fact that he could gain a voting advantage by doing so caused us additional concern.”
The family owned, 500-year old Italian company has been scouting locations for its Accokeek factory in reaction to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ramming radical gun-control into law last spring.
The Virginia site of the possible plant was one of six finalists locations that Beretta executives are now considering, after visiting 80 location in seven states.
Mr. Reh said that, “All this was a real disappointment because of the great pro-gun and pro-business response we received from the Commonwealth and local political and business leaders throughout our search process in Virginia.”
A spokesman for outgoing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell would not comment on “unannounced projects.” Calls to Commerce and Trade Secretary Jim Cheng were not returned.
Beretta has a distribution center in Spotsylvania County, Va., which it opened after former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening passed an absurd law that would have made shipping pistols a bureaucratic mess.
The firearms industry is one of the few that has grown and prospered during the Obama administration. Gun manufacturers bring much needed jobs and revenue to states feeling pinched in the weak economy.
But the sweep of new gun-control laws passed in seven states this year due to pressure from President Obama and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has changed the business plans of several companies.
Lawrence Keane is general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the trade association for firearms and ammunition manufacturers.
“It is clear that firearms manufacturers will not invest in states where the legislature and governor do not respect the Second Amendment, or if they have already have a presence in such a state that they will not invest further in that state,” Mr. Keane said.
“More than one CEO has told me that they receive offers on an almost daily basis to move their factories to pro-gun, pro-business state — practically for free.”
Gun control laws are enacted on emotions, not facts. They do nothing to make the public safer. At the same time, these result in job loss and a worse economy. Any governor or state legislature that continues to pursue more gun-control laws does so for the sake of their own agenda, not the citizens’.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).