Beretta Exec Likens Gun Ban
to Book Ban

Warns company may leave Maryland over O’Malley bill

Maryland gun control protest at Capitol / AP
March 1, 2013

Beretta USA, one of the nation’s largest firearms manufacturers, compared a Maryland gun-control bill to a book ban Friday and warned it may consider leaving the state if the legislation passes.

Beretta general counsel Jeffrey Reh said Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013 is "tantamount to a legislative effort to ban certain books" during testimony before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee.

"That might seem like a provocative statement but the parallels are apt," Reh said, according to testimony obtained by the Free Beacon. "The possession and use of firearms and printed materials are both protected by the Constitution. Both rights come from the only legislation in U.S. history that was voted on and approved directly by the citizens of our country."

"One might suggest that books do not kill and that the current legislation is sought for beneficial reasons," Reh continued. "In fact, the misuse of books—say, the Bible or the Koran—have led to tragedy, and efforts to ban certain books—for example, Huckleberry Finn—have also come from allegedly ‘beneficial’ intent."

The Maryland Senate passed O'Malley's contentious bill late Thursday night. The bill moved Friday to the House of Delegates where thousands of supporters and opponents flooded the Capitol to watch events unfold.

O’Malley’s bill would, among other things, ban assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and any new guns with two or more "military-like" features. Beretta is set to begin producing a new civilian version of a rifle that would be illegal under O’Malley’s bill.

Reh testified the bill’s intentions were "understandable" but "misguided." The legislation, he said, would target guns not typically used in crime and would fail to deter a deranged person.

"A person bent on destruction will find a way to do so and the absence of a folding stock on a rifle or the need to carry an additional magazine will not stop such a person," Reh said.

Reh also warned the bill could prompt Beretta USA, which employs between 300 and 400 people in the state, to leave for friendlier climes.

"[W]e are confronted with a state government that wants to ban our products at a time, by the way, when numerous other state governments are courting our investment," Reh said. "It is worth noting that these other states also do not try to blame a product for human misconduct."

Maryland Republicans are also worried about the effect of the legislation.

"We are pushing a legitimate manufacturer and good neighbor out of Maryland," Republican state Delegate Anthony O’Donnell told Wednesday. "Losing them would be a big disappointment. Maryland has a reputation for having a horrible business climate, and this would be one more nail in the coffin."

O’Malley said his bill "is supported by overwhelming numbers of Marylanders."

"Hopefully, the House will recognize the very good work that's been done in the Senate," he said.