Jeff Reh, a member of the board of directors for Beretta USA Corp. in Accokeek, testified last month that Beretta has two other companies in Maryland that import or sell firearms. Together, the companies employ about 400 people in the state. Reh also noted that the companies are projected to pay about $31 million in taxes to the state from 1997 to 2014.
Reh testified that the nearly 500-year history of the Beretta family shows commitment to the community in which it locates its business. The state, however, isn't reciprocating by advancing the gun-control bill, he said.
"Instead we are confronted with a state government that wants to ban our products at a time, by the way, when numerous other state governments are courting our investment," Reh said in written testimony to a Senate panel. "It is worth noting that these states also do not try to blame a product for human misconduct."
The bill would ban assault weapons and require people who buy handguns to get a license and submit fingerprints. It also would limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds and prohibit anyone who has been involuntarily committed because of mental illness from possessing a firearm. The measure passed the Senate on Thursday, and a hearing was held by committees in the House of Delegates on Friday.
The hearing drew huge crowds of supporters and opponents to Annapolis. Gov. Martin O'Malley, who proposed the legislation, spoke at a rally of supporters.
Mosi Harrington of Hyattsville said six students have been killed in six months in Prince George's County by gun violence.
"When do we say that's enough?" Harrington said. "It's enough."
Doug Bigelow of Hagerstown, though, said he came to the state Capitol to speak out for his Second Amendment rights to defend his family.
"I'm not going to wait for the sheriff to arrive 45 minutes later in the middle of nowhere where I live," Bigelow said. "I have the right to be able to defend myself."