- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Maryland-based Beretta USA announced Wednesday that it will build a $45 million firearms manufacturing plant in Tennessee, giving rise to concern over what will happen to the gun manufacturer’s plant in Prince George’s County.

A number of states began wooing the Italian company to relocate last year after officials expressed concern over the adoption of strict new gun laws in Maryland.

Beretta spokesman Ryan Muety said Wednesday that the company plans to “continue operations in Maryland and use the new factory for production expansion.”

But the decision to open a facility in another state has some Maryland lawmakers worried that this could signal the beginning of the end of the company’s decades-long presence in the state.

“I fear this is a part of Beretta’s long-term strategy to move their business and move to a state that has a fairer tax climate and fairer laws when it comes to firearms,” said Maryland House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke, Anne Arundel Republican.

Beretta employs some 400 workers and expects to create another 300 jobs at its Tennessee plant, which is slated for completion by the end of the year.

The company, which manufactures firearms ranging from hunting shotguns to the M-9 pistol used by the U.S. armed forces, began its search for a new location outside of Maryland in March.

“We started our search by looking only at states that have a consistent history of support for and likelihood of future support for Second Amendment rights,” Beretta general counsel Jeff Reh said in a statement.

Gun laws adopted in Maryland last year ban some of the types of firearms that Beretta manufactures from being bought or sold in the state.

“From the moment when we started to consider a location outside of the state of Maryland for our manufacturing expansion, the governor and his economic development team did an excellent job demonstrating the benefits of doing business in Tennessee,” Franco Gussalli Beretta, executive vice president of Beretta USA, said in a statement.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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