LANHAM, Md. (WNEW/AP) — Citing Maryland’s new, stricter gun laws, firearm manufacturer Beretta U.S.A. Corp. announced Tuesday that it will move its manufacturing capabilities from Prince George’s County to a new production facility the company is building in Tennessee.

In a statement, general manager Jeff Cooper said the Maryland Senate passed a version of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 that would have prohibited the company from being able to manufacture, store or import its products into the state.

“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,” he wrote.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley pushed for the gun legislation last year in response to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The law, which went into effect last fall, includes a ban on 45 assault weapons and a limit on gun magazines to 10 bullets. It also contains a variety of other provisions, including a licensing requirement for handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints to the state police.

“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 Nina Smith, an O’Malley spokeswoman.

Prince George’s County spokesperson Scott Peterson also expressed disappointment in Beretta’s decision.

“They have been a County business and employer for almost 40 years,” he wrote in a statement. “If there were any issues that the County could have addressed to keep Beretta here, you can be sure that we would have addressed them immediately.”

While Beretta had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and production of new product lines, “we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper wrote.

The company has no plans to relocate its office, administrative and executive support functions from its Accokeek facility, and the new facility is not scheduled to open until mid-2015.

“…we will use this time to meet with every Beretta U.S.A. employee whose Maryland job might be affected by the move to discuss with them their interest in taking a position at our new facility in Tennessee or, if they are not willing to do so, to lay out a long-term strategy for remaining with the Company while our production in Maryland continues,” the company statement says.

Beretta has operated in Italy since 1526. The family-owned company makes a variety of firearms, ranging from hunting shotguns to pistols for the U.S. Armed Forces. Beretta started operations in Maryland in the late 1970s. The plant in Accokeek makes finished pistols from raw materials for the military, law enforcement, and civilian markets.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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