Utah State Senator Howard Stephenson is filing legislation to make his state more attractive to Beretta and other gun manufacturers after Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed SB281 into law, a bill that severely restricts gun rights in the state.

My initial proposal will be to reduce obstacles and offer incentives to gun manufacturers located in the Beehive State.  This might include eliminating sales taxes on machinery, equipment and replacement parts which are used in the manufacture of guns.

This is an exciting opportunity for Utah, and tomorrow’s Republican State Convention provides an additional exciting opportunity to open up a discussion about bringing Beretta and other gun manufacturers to our state.

Beretta said in a statement, “the…law that passed is not acceptable, even with the improvements we were able to obtain.” The manufacturer also discussed their future in the state of Maryland.

“The question now facing the Beretta Holding companies in Maryland is this:  What effect will the passage of this law–and the efforts of Maryland government officials to support its passage–have on our willingness to remain in this State?

. . . Prior to introduction of this legislation the three Beretta Holding companies located in Maryland were experiencing growth in revenues and jobs and had begun expansion plans in factory and other operations.  The idea now of investing additional funds in Maryland and thus rewarding a Government that has insulted our customers and our products is offensive to us so we will take steps to evaluate such investments in other States.”

Beretta has paid more than $30 million in taxes and employs hundreds of people in Maryland. Large gun manufacturers have a positive impact on state economies, which is why we’ve seen people like Texas Gov. Rick Perry actively and publicly trying to recruit gun and ammunition manufacturers. In the wake of mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown, states across the nation have been enacting strict new gun laws, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for those in the gun industry to continue operations in their home state. Just take a look at what happened to Colorado-based Magpul. As for Beretta, the manufacturer may not be packing its bags today, but the company is certainly keeping its options open:

Beretta sees SB281 as an insult to their corporate presence.  As such, they’re not going to increase their support of a state that insults them.  The statement means they are staying and expanding out of Maryland.  The carefully worded declaration that they will “take steps to evaluate such investments in other States” leaves them some room, but the message I took away from my visit to Accokeek at the end of March was that Beretta has every intention of expanding the company elsewhere.

Beretta has to stay in Maryland to continue to meet contract obligations, and wants to stay in Maryland because they are loyal to their employees.  Their M9 contract, alone, requires constant production and can’t be interrupted by the cumbersome process of moving machines (and employees).  But the future is wide open.