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Beretta moving all manufacturing from Maryland

Beretta U.S.A. Corp. will no longer manufacture firearms in Maryland, according to a company spokesman.

The company will move all of its firearms manufacturing to a new facility being built in Gallatin, about 30 miles northeast of Nashville, Tennessee.

“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 U.S.A. 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 U.S.A. Corp., said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“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.”

Cooper said the company has not broken ground on the new Tennessee facility.

“That timing, combined with our need to plan an orderly transition of production from one facility to the other so that our delivery obligations to customers are not disrupted, means that no Beretta U.S.A. Maryland employee will be impacted by this news for many months,” Cooper said in the statement. Company officials will meet with Maryland employees to discuss relocation positions in Tennessee, he said.

The company bought the facility in Accokeek, Maryland, in 1977 and currently employs 255 in state, including 160 manufacturing jobs. Those jobs will move to the Tennessee facility by the end of 2015, according to Jeff Reh, a spokesman for the company.

The remainder of those jobs — in sales and administrative positions — would remain at the company’s United States headquarters in Maryland.

Reh said it is unlikely those positions will be moved from the state.

“The family chose this location many years ago because of its proximity to Washington, D.C.,” Reh said.

Beretta announced earlier this year that the $45 million facility would bring 300 new jobs to the Gallatin area.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin J. O’Malley expressed dismay at the news.

“We’re disappointed with this decision, but the commonsense gun safety law we passed, which includes licenses for handgun purchases, is keeping schools, families, and law enforcement personnel safe,” said Nina Smith in an email. “We remain energized about all the jobs we’re creating here in Maryland. Since June 2013, Maryland has created 24,100 total jobs and we’re one of only 19 states in the nation that has recovered all of the jobs lost in the national recession. We will keep investing in schools, innovation, and infrastructure so that we can continue to create jobs and ensure that our children have more opportunity rather than less.”

Reh said the new facility was seen as an expansion of Beretta’s current manufacturing operations in the United States. Company officials decided to locate that expansion outside of Maryland rather than reward what was seen “as an anti-gun attitude,” Reh said.

Company officials threatened to move after the General Assembly passed gun control legislation that restricted, among other things, capacity of ammunition magazines.

Beretta has operated in Italy since 1526. The family-owned company makes a variety of firearms, ranging from hunting shotguns to the U.S. Armed Forces M-9 pistol.

Reh said the last of the manufacturing jobs in Maryland will be moved to Tennessee in late 2015 after the company completes current U.S. military orders for the M-9 pistol.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.