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MILLER: Maryland fails the troops

State gun-control measure puts military readiness at risk

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A perverse side effect of Maryland's gun-control hysteria is that certain proposed legislation could leave American soldiers disarmed. The General Assembly should slow down and think about what it's doing.

The state Senate voted 28 to 19 on Thursday to prohibit manufacturers from holding any "assault weapons" in their inventory or receiving magazines with a capacity over 10 rounds. The state House of Delegates opened committee hearings on Friday on the companion measure needed for final passage. Maryland-based suppliers to the military services are concerned.

"We are deeply troubled that the bill that passed the Senate may impair national security by forcing companies to leave Maryland in order to continue to provide the military and law enforcement with the products they need to keep our nation and communities safe," says Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents firearms manufacturers.

Since 1985, Beretta USA has been responsible for supplying the standard-issue M9 pistol to all five branches of the military. From its southern Maryland plant, the firm has provided more than 600,000 pistols to the Defense Department; the contract expires at the end of 2014. The M9 has a standard magazine capacity of 15 rounds, which is five more than Gov. Martin O'Malley says anyone should have.

Beretta doesn't actually make the magazines; they're imported from out of state. Should Mr. O'Malley's bill make its way to enactment and take effect on Oct. 1, Beretta would be prohibited from receiving the "high-capacity" magazines for hand assembly and testing in its factory in Accokeek.

The disruption to operations would be significant. "If we have to move assembly and testing out of state, that will have an impact on our delivery schedule, which could cause possible delay to our troops," says Beretta's general counsel, Jeffrey Reh. "Also, moving will increase cost. We can't pass that along to the federal government immediately, but for future orders, it would have an impact on cost for taxpayers."

Further affected by the choices made in Annapolis is Adcor in Baltimore, on the U.S. Army's short list to produce a possible replacement for the M4 rifle. The company intends to triple its 125-man work force if it gets the contract for the Adcor Bear carbine.

"The bill strongly suggests to us that this administration does not support manufacturers in Maryland producing firearms," says the company's president Jimmy Stavrakis. "The bill is a moving target right now, but with this unfriendly business environment, we will strongly consider moving out of state."

Perhaps some lawmakers think that might be a good thing. "This is what happens when anti-gun people write legislation," said Mr. Reh of Beretta. "They either don't understand the impact of what they are doing or they just don't care." They should, because these firms not only bring jobs and economic growth, they're helping defend the nation.

Opponents of Mr. O'Malley's gun-control agenda are considering asking the courts for an injunction to stop the General Assembly's assault on Second Amendment grounds. That's an extreme step, but extremism invites extremism.

Click here to read Emily Miller's story about the manufacturing operation at Beretta, USA in Maryland.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.


© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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