With the Maryland legislature considering some quite Draconian bills against "assault weapons," Maryland-based manufacturers, notably Beretta, have been warning that they might have to leave the state.
One of the great firearms success stories of recent years has been LWRCI, which is located in Cambridge on the Eastern Shore. On March 1, LWRCI Executive VP Darren Mellors testified before the state senate against legislation that would make it difficult or impossible for Maryland citizens to own LWRCI rifles.
***Read testimony here***
Mellors held out the specter of LWRCI leaving the state, an outcome that would be a great loss to rural Dorchester County, which already has suffered from declines in fish processing and textiles. In this, LWRCI follows the example of Magpul, which has threatened to pull out of Colorado should its products be banned there.
These are not easy threats to make. You don't just stick a gun factory in a U-Haul and head for the border. Not only is moving the physical plant difficult and expensive, it's no easy chore to replace skilled engineers and machine operators. There's often a nearby vendor infrastructure that may not be available other places. And inevitably there is a period where production is greatly reduced or stops altogether.
At every year's SHOT Show, state and local development agencies jockey to get gun companies to move to more gun-friendly states. South Dakota has been especially aggressive, and has begun to develop a center of manufacturing at Sturgis.
I'm of two minds about gun companies moving. You want to see anti-gun politicians punished, and removing a large payroll from the state certainly constitutes punishment. On the other hand, Maryland politicians from the I-95 axis between Baltimore and Washington are known to lose sleep over the Eastern Shore only when delayed in traffic on the way to the beach. William Donald Schaefer, a Baltimore mayor who later served as governor, referred to that, um, outhouse, the Eastern Shore.
And if all the gunmakers leave, state politicians have no investment in the industry whatever, making it all the easier to call for bad laws that will affect only manufacturers in other states.
But in this case, the salient fact is that Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to run for president, and a lot of Democrats have convinced themselves that the 2012 election has made gun control a winner for them. They now can say openly what they always had in their hearts, and you can tell it's just bursting out of them. I think we all know that if presidential ambitions are put in the balance with a few hundred jobs in a remote county, ambition will win every time.