ACCOKEEK, Md. (WJLA) -- Gun manufacturing giant Beretta announced Tuesday it will move its entire manufacturing operations to a new plant in Tennessee in protest of efforts by Maryland lawmakers to strengthen gun laws.
Beretta currently employs hundreds of workers at the company's facilities in Accokeek, including the corporate headquarters - which it said would remain there. The company tells ABC 7 News a total of 160 manufacturing jobs will be moved from Maryland to Tennessee.
After 40 years of making guns in Maryland, Baretta hopes to open its new manufacturing plant in Gallatin, Tenn. by mid-2015.
The gun-control law enacted last year In Maryland, which is currently the subject of court challenges, banned a variety of assault weapons and limited gun magazines to 10 bullets.
Beretta officials said a version of that gun-control legislation initially passed by the Maryland Senate would have prohibited the company from being able to manufacture, store or even import into Maryland products that it sells to customers throughout the U.S. and the world.
The company said that while lawmakers ultimately reversed some of those provisions, it was concerned such restrictions could be reinstated in the future.
Both Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, III called Beretta's decision "disappointing."
Baker said there was nothing the county could do to address Beretta's concerns, while O'Malley defended his state's gun measures.
"The common sense gun safety law we passed, which includes licenses for handgun purchases, is keeping schools, communities, and law enforcement personnel safe," the governor said.