Beretta has announced it will open a new factory in Gallatin, Tenn. The new plant will employ about 300 workers, and Beretta expects to open it by the end of the year.
Beretta has operated out of a plant in Accokeek, Md., since about 1985. Beretta bought the factory, whose original buildings once housed long-defunct importer Firearms International, to build the M9 pistol, and even at the time, certain Maryland politicians weren't too happy about it. I remember one saying he'd tolerate it, provided Beretta didn't make "Saturday Night Specials" there.
Beretta has added onto the original plant many times and brought in other members of its corporate family like Benelli and Stoeger. When I first started going to Accokeek, it was as rural as West Virginia. Now, it's in the Washington suburbs.
There will be many on our side who will cheer this move, as they did Ruger's pending North Carolina plant or PTR's move to South Carolina, as just punishment for anti-gun politicians and just reward for pro-gun governors. Certainly, it's great news for those in Tennessee who'd like a good steady factory job.
But I will throw in a cautionary note. The more this happens, the more it looks like politicians in the Northeast and California are running the gun industry out. That lets them strut for their core constituency, and inevitably leaves gun owners in those states feeling more vulnerable. It also supports the anti-gun canard that gun owners are primarily Southern white men who can be dismissed as "neo-Confederates."
There is a vocal faction of gun owners whose solution to a place like California is "just get out." California has 11% of the entire U.S. population. New York, although declining, still has more than 6%. It is not acceptable just to tell millions of gun owners in those states that their only choice is to pack up and move to Montana or Alabama. It is equally unacceptable to let Democratic politicians in those states think they have nothing whatever to fear from gun owners, because if they haven't left, they'll soon enough be leaving.
We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of a Civil War that ultimately was about whether it was OK for people in one part of the country to deprive some other people of their rights. There were those who adhered to the "just get out" theory then, too. But a bloody conflict established, however imperfectly, that rights are rights everywhere in America. And that's how it needs to be with gun rights.
I'm not willing to concede California, Connecticut, Maryland and New York and be satisfied with Arizona, Mississippi, South Dakota and Utah. Our job is not done until everyone, everywhere has the same gun rights. So congratulations, Gallatin. But let's not abandon Accokeek.