Beretta USA announced last week that it will relocate from Maryland to Tennessee, explaining that stringent gun laws supported by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley would make it nearly impossible for the company to manufacture or sell many of its products in the Old Line State.
“During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta USA 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," Jeff Cooper, general manager for Beretta USA, said in a statement.
"While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the state," the statement added.
Beretta will reportedly invest around $45 million to set up shop in Tennessee, Fox News reported, and plans to employ about 300 people during the next five years.
"Beretta is one of the world's great companies, and its commitment to excellence and Tennessee's rich history in manufacturing make a great match," Dave Smith, a spokesman for Tennessee's Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, told Fox in an email.
And although Beretta has no plans to move its administrative staff in Accokeek, Md., to Tennessee, O’Malley is apparently unhappy with the company’s decision to move much of its business to Tennessee.
"We're disappointed with this decision, but the common-sense gun safety law we passed, which includes licenses for handgun purchases, is keeping schools, communities and law enforcement personnel safe," said a spokeswoman for O'Malley, Nina Smith.
But here's the thing: We're not sure why Maryland’s governor is "disappointed." He should have seen this coming. This is merely the cost of doing business.
Look, if lawmakers create business-unfriendly environments, businesses leave. So if a state enacts strict gun control measures, gun manufacturers almost always respond by picking up and leaving. This isn't complicated. Indeed, this is common sense.
Still, a few lawmakers have admitted publicly that they don’t understand why gun makers tend to react poorly to anti-gun legislation.
“What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible — even if they’re deranged, mentally ill, [have] a criminal background, they don’t care,” he said, annihilating an entire army of straw men. “They want to sell guns.”
“Who are they?” Cuomo asked during a radio interview. “Are they these extreme conservatives ... pro-assault-weapon? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”
Surprisingly enough, righteous indignation did not stop gun makers in either of these states from relocating.
Again, this is what happens.
To make this point blindingly clear, here's a comprehensive list of gun makers who have recently abandoned Second Amendment-unfriendly states for more inviting environments. This following list comes via Guns and Ammo:
1. Beretta USA
2. Colt Competition
3. Kahr Arms
4. Les Baer Custom
5. Lewis Machine & Tool
6. Magpul Industries
7. O.F. Mossberg & Sons
8. PTR Industries
9. Remington Arms
10. Stag Arms
11. Sturm, Ruger & Co.
It’s worth noting that many of these companies are relocating to states that are not just more gun-friendly, making it easier to do business, but to states that are also more business-friendly in terms of taxation, regulation and the cost of labor.
“The states shedding gun companies are making it undesirable for people to do business in general,” Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns and Ammo. “Generally speaking, they're overtaxed and overregulated. Take Connecticut. It's rated one of the worst states in which to do business or retire."
"So, if you're a businessman, are you going to invest there or somewhere like Alabama [where Remington is expanding] or Tennessee [where Beretta is expanding] where it's not only a better place to do business, but they respect the products you manufacture and are happy to have your tax dollars?” he asked.
“You’re seeing a shift of these manufacturers out of states that don’t want them there,” Perry said in a recent CNN interview. “And I think that is an appropriate move and an appropriate conversation.”
Magpul responded to this invitation by moving its headquarters to Texas and away from Colorado, which recently instated some intensely anti-gun laws, Guns and Ammo noted.
“I’ve had CEOs in New England tell me that the offers from states’ economic development teams are so extraordinary that they could essentially move their factories for free,” Keane said. “In some cases they’ve received these offers almost daily over extended periods of time.”
In short, O'Malley can be "disappointed" in Beretta all he wants, but it makes little sense. At this point, the reaction from gun makers to stringent gun laws implemented in a knee-jerk fashion is both expected and entirely predictable.
And it's not personal. It's strictly business.