Democrat State Party Platforms – Kansas To Maryland

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Now that we have to wait on the FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, it is time to continue my series on party platforms. This post will look at the Democrat Party platforms for Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Maryland. When I finish this series on the Democrats, I plan to do a similar one on Republican state party platforms.

Kansas

Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) signed permitless concealed-carry into law in 2015. Last year, campus carry was legalized as of July 1st. Bear this in mind when reading what Democratic Party of Kansas has to say on firearms.

From the addendum to their platform adopted in 2018.

Kansas Democrats believe guns have no place in public schools, in our colleges, universities, public libraries, or other public buildings.

We insist that firearms be carried only by those who have been properly trained and certified in their use, have passed a thorough background check, and have been licensed by the state.

In other words, they object to all the progress on gun rights passed in Kansas over the past few years.

Kentucky

The Democrat Party of Kentucky does not publish a platform on its webpage. According to Ballotpedia, they merely adopt the national Democrat Party’s platform. Some Kentucky Democrats have suggested a platform but I can’t find any evidence of one being adopted. The national platform has this to say about “gun violence” (sic).

With 33,000 Americans dying every year, Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence. We can respect the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping our communities safe. To build on the success of the lifesaving Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, we will expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws; repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s)—off our streets. We will fight back against attempts to make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to revoke federal licenses from law breaking gun dealers, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues. There is insufficient research on effective gun prevention policies, which is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must have the resources it needs to study gun violence as a public health issue.

Louisiana

Like Kentucky, the Democrat Party of Louisiana does not publish a platform on its webpage. Again, like Kentucky, it merely adopts the national Democrat Party’s platform. A search of their website for “platform” turns up only elections to the platform committee of the national convention. I’m sure most in Louisiana do not agree with the national party’s platform regarding firearms. That might explain why there is only one Democrat congressman from Louisiana and Gov. John Bel Edwards ran for election on a pro-2A platform.

Maine

Maine used to be a state where the Democrats were pro-gun and most of the state outside of southern Maine is still relatively pro-gun. Voters in Maine did turn down a Bloomberg sponsored and financed referendum calling for universal background checks. Moreover, the state joined New Hampshire and Vermont in approving permitless or constitutional concealed carry. However, the platform of the Democratic Party of Maine does contain calls for more gun control even if they call it gun safety (sic).

Firearms are explicitly mentioned in two sections of the platform. First, under “Health Care”:

d. Support for programs that increase gun safety

And then under “Freedom, Safety, and National Security”:

5. Ensures responsible gun ownership in accordance with the 2nd Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution and works to strengthen background checks for every firearm sale within the
State of Maine and promotes the restoration of gun safety research..

As Democratic state party platforms go, that is relatively weak stuff.

Maryland

Given that Maryland has a plethora of gun control laws including requiring a class in order to purchase a handgun, a mag ban, and a ban on modern sporting rifles, it should be surprising that the Maryland Democrats have come up with even more things they want in the name of “gun safety” (sic). Sadly, it isn’t. The Maryland Democratic Party devotes a full webpage in their Issues section to gun control.

Gun Safety

Democrats support Americans’ Second Amendment guaranteed rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

We also believe the government should pass sensible laws that stem gun crimes, violence that too often destroys families and communities. A staggering 89 percent of unintentional, fatal shootings of children occur in the home.

Guns and domestic abusers are a deadly combination.

Of women killed by men, more than 90 percent are killed by a man they knew personally.

At least 62 percent are killed by an intimate partner. Over the past 25 years, more intimate partner homicides have been carried out with guns than with all other weapons combined.

No law will prevent all gun crimes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t implement sensible gun regulations that strike a balance between liberty and safety.

Currently the law prohibits a convicted domestic abuser from purchasing or possessing a gun, but the law does not provide a timeline for forfeiture or a requirement of proof of forfeiture.

General Assembly Democrats are leading the fight to require abusers to forfeit guns within 48 hours and to give notice of forfeiture within 5 days.

I searched their webpage for any mention of the murder rate in Baltimore, gang violence, or even crime (other than “gun crimes”) and I couldn’t find anything. I guess it is easier to go after domestic abusers who are already banned under Federal law (Lautenberg Amendment) from possessing a firearm than it is to attack criminal gangs and drug-related crime in Baltimore.

A Win In The 4th Circuit (Updated)

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has not been too good for gun rights in the past few years. However, a case involving Maryland make signal a change. Kolbe v. Hogan (formerly Kolbe v. O’Malley) challenged Maryland’s ban on certain semi-auto firearms and standard capacity on Second Amendment and Equal Protection Clause grounds. The District Court for Maryland agreed with the state’s arguments and found the bans were constitutional using intermediate scrutiny.

Today, the 4th Circuit overturned that decision in part and remanded it back to the District Court to be reconsidered using strict scrutiny. The court affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of the Equal Protection claims involving retired law enforcement and the vagueness claims that “copies” of certain firearms were not specific enough.

From the synopsis of the decision:

TRAXLER, Chief Judge, wrote the opinion for the court as to
Parts I, II, and III, in which Judge Agee joined.

In April 2013, Maryland passed the Firearm Safety Act
(“FSA”), which, among other things, bans law-abiding citizens,
with the exception of retired law enforcement officers, from
possessing the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly
kept by several million American citizens for defending their
families and homes and other lawful purposes. Plaintiffs raise
a number of challenges to the FSA, contending that the “assault
weapons” ban trenches upon the core Second Amendment right to
keep firearms in defense of hearth and home, that the FSA’s ban
of certain larger-capacity detachable magazines (“LCMs”)
likewise violates the Second Amendment, that the exception to
the ban for retired officers violates the Equal Protection
Clause, and that the FSA is void for vagueness to the extent
that it prohibits possession of “copies” of the specifically
identified semi-automatic rifles banned by the FSA. The
district court rejected Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment challenges,
concluding that the “assault weapons” and larger-capacity
magazine bans passed constitutional muster under intermediate
scrutiny review. The district court also denied Plaintiffs’
equal protection and vagueness claims.

In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of
the Second Amendment—“the right of law-abiding responsible

citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” District of
Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 635 (2008), and we are
compelled by Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S.
742 (2010), as well as our own precedent in the wake of these
decisions, to conclude that the burden is substantial and strict
scrutiny is the applicable standard of review for Plaintiffs’
Second Amendment claim.
Thus, the panel vacates the district
court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claims and
remands for the district court to apply strict scrutiny. The
panel affirms the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ Equal
Protection challenge to the statutory exception allowing retired
law enforcement officers to possess prohibited semi-automatic
rifles. And, the panel affirms the district court’s conclusion
that the term “copies” as used by the FSA is not
unconstitutionally vague.

 The decision from the 4th Circuit was not unanimous and contains dissents, concurrences, and multiple parts. Indeed, the full decision is 90 pages long. Needless to say, it will take some time to read and digest this decision. That said, having the case sent back to the District Court to apply strict scrutiny to the Second Amendment claims is a definite win.

It will be interesting to see what legal legerdemain that Judge Catherine C. Blake will employ to assert that Maryland can still ban the most popular firearm in common use in America today even if strict scrutiny is applied.

UPDATE: Sebastian has more on this case at Shall Not Be Questioned. He is correct in saying that the ban on semi-auto rifles and standard capacity magazines still remains in place. The 4th Circuit didn’t find the law unconstitutional. It merely said that it needs to be reheard using the correct level of scrutiny. This is a win but not a complete win.

UPDATE II: Attorney Andrew Branca (Law of Self Defense) has his take on the case here.

UPDATE III: Gun rights scholar and attorney David Kopel examines the case in detail in the Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog. As he notes, the Second Amendment protections should extend to gun parts (magazines) and that strict scrutiny is appropriate in this case.

UPDATE IV: Dave Hardy weighs in on Kolbe. He makes note of the dissent and the response from Judge Traxler to it.

Maryland AG Reacts As Expected

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D-MD) served a combined 28 years in the Maryland House and Senate before being elected Attorney General. He says in his bio that, “He shepherded landmark legislation on gun safety”, through the Maryland Senate. That legislation was the Maryland Firearm Safety Act which banned the sale of ARs. AKs, their clones, and standard capacity magazines.

Given that background, it is no surprise that he is not happy with the judges of the 4th Circuit after yesterday’s ruling in Kolbe v. Hogan. As he states in the press release below, he intends to request an en banc review of the case or, failing to get that, he will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Baltimore, MD (Feb. 4, 2016) –Attorney General Brian E. Frosh issued the following statement on today’s ruling by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on the Maryland Firearm Safety Act:

“The Maryland Firearm Safety Act is a common-sense law designed to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. It remains the law in Maryland.

The 2-1 decision handed down today by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals returns the case to the district court for further proceedings, and it also conflicts sharply with rulings of other federal appellate courts.

Those courts have uniformly upheld assault weapons bans and limits on large capacity magazines. Those courts have not imposed the standard of review adopted by the 2-judge majority today, but instead follow a standard that gives greater deference to the public safety and health concerns that led the legislature to enact this law. As a dissent by Judge King notes: ‘There is sound reason to conclude that the Second Amendment affords no protection whatsoever to the assault rifles and shotguns, copycat weapons, and large-capacity detachable magazines that are banned by the State of Maryland.’

As Attorney General, I remain fully committed to defending Maryland’s law, and to defending the courageous votes taken by the Maryland General Assembly so that we can continue to protect public safety and reduce the risk of deadly gun violence.

Rest assured, the Office of the Attorney General will seek further review of the majority decision, either by the full Fourth Circuit sitting en banc, or by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Those other circuits to whom he refers are the notoriously anti-gun 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. As a resident of the 4th Circuit I have been consistently disappointed in its rulings on the Second Amendment. I have long wished that they would start ruling more like the 7th Circuit but my wishes have not been granted. Starting with US v Masciandaro (2011) and continuing with their overturning of the District Court win in Woollard v. Gallagher (2013), the 4th Circuit has not sure much due respect for Second Amendment rights.

Of note is that dissent in Kolbe came from Judge Robert King, a Clinton appointee, who wrote the opinion in the Woollard case. You’d have thought a born, bred, and educated West (by God!) Virginian would have had more respect for the Second Amendment. Sadly, that is not the case.

NSSF Responds To The 4th Circuit Ruling

The National Shooting Sports Foundation was an organizational plaintiff in Kolbe v. Hogan. As you can imagine they are very pleased with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that the District Court erred in going with intermediate scrutiny and not strict scrutiny.

Appeals Court Remands Decision for ‘Strict Scrutiny’ of Second Amendment

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today overturned a federal district court decision that had upheld the 2013 State of Maryland Firearm Safety Act as constitutional under intermediate scrutiny review.

Writing for the three-judge appellate court panel that heard the case, Kolbe v. Maryland, Chief Judge William B. Traxler wrote: “In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment — ‘the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570,635 (2008), and we are compelled by Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), as well as our own precedent in the wake of these decisions to conclude that the burden is substantial and strict scrutiny is the applicable standard or review for Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claim.”

The court vacated the district court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ claims and remanded the case to the lower court, ordering that it apply the appropriate strict standard of review.

“We are greatly heartened by the Fourth Circuit panel’s ruling today,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), one of the lead plaintiffs in this case. “As this important case goes forward, NSSF will continue to work with our co-plaintiffs to ensure that our citizens’ Second Amendment rights are protected and that the lawful commerce in firearms is restored in support of this constitutional protection.”

The NRA Responds To Today’s 4th Circuit Decision

The NRA is very pleased with the 2-1 ruling in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Kolbe v. Hogan.

National Rifle Association Statement on 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling in Kolbe v. Maryland

Fairfax, Va.— Chris W. Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, issued the following statement in reaction to today’s ruling by the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Kolbe v. Maryland case. The case challenges the legality of Maryland’s 2013 ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The 2-1 decision sends the gun-control law back to a lower court for review because it “implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment.”

“The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is an important victory for the Second Amendment. Maryland’s ban on commonly owned firearms and magazines clearly violates our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. The highest level of judicial scrutiny should apply when governments try to restrict our Second Amendment freedoms.” – Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action

You can find my earlier post on the case here.

The Most Common Rifle In America Not Protected By The Second Amendment

In a ruling today, US District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake, a Clinton appointee, said that AR-15s and semi-automatic AK-47s were not protected by the Second Amendment. Her opinion came in a Maryland case, Kolbe et al v. O’Malley et al, in which the plaintiffs were challenging the state’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013.

Upon review of all the parties’ evidence, the court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, particularly self-defense in the home, which is at the core of the Second Amendment right, and is inclined to find the weapons fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual.

First, the court is not persuaded that assault weapons are commonly possessed based on the absolute number of those weapons owned by the public. Even accepting that there are 8.2 million assault weapons in the civilian gun stock, as the plaintiffs claim, assault weapons represent no more than 3% of the current civilian gun stock, and ownership of those weapons is highly concentrated in less than 1% of the U.S. population.

The court is also not persuaded by the plaintiffs’ claims that assault weapons are used infrequently in mass shootings and murders of law enforcement officers. The available statistics indicate that assault weapons are used disproportionately to their ownership in the general public and, furthermore, cause more injuries and more fatalities when they are used.

As for their claims that assault weapons are well-suited for self-defense, the plaintiffs proffer no evidence beyond their desire to possess assault weapons for self-defense in the home that they are in fact commonly used, or possessed, for that purpose.

Finally, despite the plaintiffs’ claims that they would like to use assault weapons for defensive purposes, assault weapons are military-style weapons designed for offensive use, and are equally, or possibly even more effective, in functioning and killing capacity as their fully automatic versions.

Plaintiffs in the case included the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, the Maryland Licensed Firearm Dealers Association, a number of businesses, and individuals Stephen Kolbe and Andrew Turner. The defendants included Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D-MD), and the Maryland State Police.

In reaching her conclusions, Judge Blake relied extensively on the testimony of such anti-gun stalwarts as Prof. Daniel Webster of Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Christoper Koper of George Mason University, the Violence Policy Center, and Lucy Allen of NERA. She even accepted as valid a database maintained by Mother Jones Magazine. She refused the plaintiffs’ motion to exclude their testimony as flawed.

Judge Blake clearly indicates by her footnote on page 24 that she does not understand the difference between a M-16 and an AR-15. Indeed, she considers the AR-15 to be more dangerous.

The Supreme Court indicated in Heller I that M-16 rifles could be banned as dangerous and unusual. 554 U.S. at
627. Given that assault rifles like the AR-15 are essentially the functional equivalent of M-16s—and arguably more
effective—the same reasoning would seem to apply here.

Applying intermediate scrutiny to the case, Judge Blake concludes:

In summary, the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, which represents the considered judgment
of this State’s legislature and its governor, seeks to address a serious risk of harm to law
enforcement officers and the public from the greater power to injure and kill presented by assault
weapons and large capacity magazines. The Act substantially serves the government’s interest in
protecting public safety, and it does so without significantly burdening what the Supreme Court
has now explained is the core Second Amendment right of “law-abiding, responsible citizens to
use arms in defense of hearth and home.” Accordingly, the law is constitutional and will be
upheld.

In looking at this ruling, it is time to call a spade a spade. This is a bullshit ruling by an extremely biased, anti-gun judge. It should and must be appealed.

This Can’t Be Good For Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Presidential Aspirations

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Maryland) is exploring a run for President in 2016. He will be going to Iowa this weekend to appear at a series of Democratic fundraisers. While he may think his positions on gun control will play well with the hard-core Democrats who vote in primaries, I somehow doubt the announcement from Beretta USA below saying that they are moving their entire manufacturing capabilities will add to his reputation with everyone else.

Manufacturing jobs are the ones that states fight over when it comes to economic development. States rarely seek to push out high-paying skilled jobs but Maryland seems to be the exception. I guess its political leaders believe feeding at the Federal trough with all their government workers is more important than encouraging companies that actually make things.

From Beretta USA:

Beretta U.S.A. Corp., located in Accokeek, Maryland, announced today that it has decided to move its manufacturing capabilities from its existing location to a new production facility that it is building in Gallatin, Tennessee. The Gallatin facility is scheduled to be opened in mid-2015. Beretta U.S.A. had previously planned to use the new Gallatin, Tennessee facility for new machinery and production of new products only.

“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. 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,” stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper added.

The transition of production from Beretta U.S.A.’s Maryland facility to the Tennessee facility will not occur until 2015 and will be managed so as not to disrupt deliveries to Beretta customers. Beretta U.S.A.’s production of the U.S. Armed Forces M9 9mm pistol will continue at the Accokeek, Maryland facility until all current orders from the U.S. Armed Forces have been filled.

“We have not yet begun groundbreaking on the Tennessee facility and we do not anticipate that that building will be completed until the middle part of 2015,” continued Cooper. “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. More importantly, we will use this time to meet with every Beretta U.S.A. employee whose Maryland job might be affected by the move to discuss with them their interest in taking a position at our new facility in Tennessee or, if they are not willing to do so, to lay out a long-term strategy for remaining with the Company while our production in Maryland continues.”

Beretta U.S.A. anticipates that the Gallatin, Tennessee facility will involve $45 million of investment in building and equipment and the employment of around 300 employees during the next five years.

Beretta U.S.A. has no plans to relocate its office, administrative and executive support functions from its Accokeek, Maryland facility.

If You Live In Prince George’s County, Maryland, May I Suggest…

If you live in Prince George’s County, Maryland and vote in County Council District 6, may I suggest that you vote for my friend and fellow gunny Kenn Blanchard. He is an honorable and decent man, a believer in freedom and self-determination, and an all-around nice guy. He is running as a Republican in a heavily Democratic county.

Looking back at the 2010 General Election results for Prince George’s County, out of nine districts only one had a contested election. Frankly, that is deplorable. The only contest is who will win the Democratic primary for the respective council districts. Nonetheless, if all you do is elect Democrats with the same mindset, how can you ever change the way things are? The answer is you can’t.

The usual path to higher office starts at the local level with the county councils or commissioners, the boards of alderman, city councils, or even the school board. It is rare that you find someone running for higher office as their starting point. Maryland’s gun laws suck and most members of the Maryland General Assembly got their political start somewhere other than the state legislature. If we as a community want to change these types of laws, we need to start electing good people like Kenn at the local level.

If you want to help Kenn out, you can make a contribution at his campaign website found here. He’s got an uphill battle and he needs our help. I’ve donated and I would encourage you to do so as well. We as a gun culture and community need to support those like Kenn who have stuck their neck out.

Beretta USA Responds To Signing Of Maryland Gun Control Legislation

Beretta USA has been saying for a while now that they would respond to Maryland’s new gun control legislation when Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) actually signed it. He signed it yesterday morning and they have responded.

They do not find the new law acceptable and consider it an insult to them and their employees. Beretta USA is evaluating where other than Maryland it plans to expand plant, jobs, and production. They cannot immediately move all operations out of Maryland as they have contracts for M9 pistols to fulfill for the Department of Defense. Moving the production machinery for these pistols out of state would cause unacceptable delays in delivery to the military. A recent interview with Guns.com has more on that here.

The full official Beretta response is below:

This morning, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law SB281, a bill that will severely limit the Constitutionally-protected rights of American citizens in the State of Maryland.

Following the signature of the Bill into law, Beretta has issued the following statement, regarding our company’s position regarding the law, and our willingness to remain in the State of Maryland.

You may also wish to read this article, outlining our future plans to remain in a state that has chosen to cripple its citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

“The firearm companies owned by Beretta Holding in Maryland — Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Benelli U.S.A. Corporation and Stoeger Industries, Inc. — have all been deeply concerned about Governor Martin O’Malley’s effort this year to impose broad new restrictions on the rights of Maryland citizens to buy firearms, as well as on the types of firearms and firearm magazines they can acquire. The Companies have submitted comments before the Maryland legislature and to the press condemning these efforts and stating that the Governor’s anti-gun activity is causing them to evaluate whether they want to remain in this State.

Notwithstanding some media reports to the contrary, those efforts have had some beneficial effects.

Through the Companies’ legislative efforts and with assistance led by Delegate Joe Vallario and others provisions were stripped out of the final Bill that would have required an immediate move of certain operations out of Maryland. The parts of the legislation that remained, though – and that were not deleted notwithstanding the Beretta Holding companies efforts to do so -remain offensive not only to our companies as firearm manufacturers, importers and distributors and as investors in jobs, taxes and income within the State of Maryland, but also to those of us who, as Maryland citizens, will now be encumbered with obstacles to our exercise of our Constitutional rights, such as a requirement we now be fingerprinted like a criminal before we can buy a handgun, without providing a commensurate benefit in reducing crime.

The resulting law that passed is not acceptable, even with the improvements we were able to obtain. In short, the law that finally passed went from being atrocious to simply being bad.

The question now facing the Beretta Holding companies in Maryland is this: What effect will the passage of this law–and the efforts of Maryland government officials to support its passage–have on our willingness to remain in this State?

In that respect we are mindful of two objectives: We will not let passage of this legislation prevent us from providing on-time delivery of our products to our U.S. Armed Forces and other important customers. We also will not go forward in a way that compounds the insult made to our Maryland employees by their Governor and by the legislators who supported his efforts.

Prior to introduction of this legislation the three Beretta Holding companies located in Maryland were experiencing growth in revenues and jobs and had begun expansion plans in factory and other operations. The idea now of investing additional funds in Maryland and thus rewarding a Government that has insulted our customers and our products is offensive to us so we will take steps to evaluate such investments in other States. At the same time, we will continue our current necessary operations within Maryland and we are thankful for and welcome the continued support of our employees as we do so.”

Who Will Be The First To Leave?

Now that both Maryland and Connecticut have passed their draconian gun control acts, the question becomes who among the gun manufacturers in those two states will be the first to relocate.

On Thursday, there was an article in Opposing Views suggesting that Beretta USA had announced their departure from Maryland. However, if you read the article closely, this is incorrect. What Beretta actually said was that they would have to leave if the gun control legislation was passed. They have not yet made a formal announcement that they were moving their operations out of Maryland. I’m sure that probably will happen but it hasn’t happened yet.

So that leaves the question who will be first. Moreover, where will they move.

Both states have a number of well-known firearms manufacturers: Beretta, Colt, Ruger, and Mossberg. However, to get a better feel for the companies involved in firearms manufacturing in both states, I went to the ATF list of Federal Firearms Licensees. I pulled the 07 FFLs – manufacturers of firearms other than destructive devices – and 10 FFLs – manufacturers of destructive devices for each state. It should be noted that some of the firearms “manufacturers” in each state either make components or are actually gunsmiths doing custom work.

Maryland and Connecticut each have five manufacturers of destructive devices including big companies such as Beretta, Colt Defense, Colt’s Manufacturing, and  defense contractor Mistral Group. Under the listing for ordinary firearms manufacturers, Connecticut has 121 companies listed while Maryland has 105 companies listed. Below is a list by state of some of the true manufacturers as opposed to either gunsmiths or those providing ancillary services such as CNC milling or specialty coatings.

Maryland

Connecticut

When discussing who will leave and who won’t, we need to keep a number of things in mind. First, you don’t just relocate a plant of any kind at the drop of a hat. Second, the companies involved have ties to their community and region going back generations. Third, very few, if any, of the manufacturers do everything and must depend upon local subcontractors to perform certain operations. Fourth, the companies would be losing a well trained workforce if they moved and their employees did not also relocate. Finally, with the firearm industry being heavily regulated, there would be immense amounts of red-tape involved in moving to a new state.

Dan Haar of the Hartford Courant looks at the issue in an article published yesterday entitled, “Gun Industry Dilemma: Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?” He notes the issue for some of these companies is not just having to move family but the consumer backlash on their companies if they don’t.

Scalise (of ASC) badly wants to stay in Connecticut, where he and his wife have four children ages 5 to 12. So does Mark Malkowski, owner of Stag Arms a few hundred yards away in New Britain, and the executives at O.F. Mossberg & Sons and Colt’s Manufacturing Co. — all of them makers of the now banned military-style rifles at the heart of the law.

The trouble is not the direct effects of the ban — they’re allowed to continue manufacturing, and each firm will lose a few percentage points of their sales — but rather, the companies’ standing in an industry where customers famously punish certain brands.

The companies have been receiving thousands of emails from both current and future customers urging them to move. Some have indicated they will purchase from other companies if, for example, Stag Arms, stays in Connecticut. Moreover, industrial recruiters from more gun friendly states have been offering incentives to the companies to move. Whether they will move lock, stock, and barrel or move some of the production to plants in other states is the question.

Haar believes that the majority will attempt to grow production at plants outside of the state while still having some operations in Connecticut. He notes that Mossberg has a plant in Texas. It should also be remembered that Colt opened a new factory in Osceola County, Florida in 2011. Likewise, in Maryland, Beretta has some operations in Virginia.

Having established metal fabricating and finishing companies in a state would be a definite plus in attracting any firearm company to relocate. You would tend to find many of these co-located with the automotive and aircraft industries. Thus, you could see companies moving to the Upstate of South Carolina due to BMW, to Alabama due to Mercedes, to Tennessee due to Nissan, or Kentucky due to Toyota. Likewise, you could see a company relocating to the Wichita, KS area with its aircraft industry. All of these locations are in gun friendly states with strong industrial development recruiting departments.

So who would be first to go? In terms of ease of relocating, Ruger would be at the top of the list. Their manufacturing operations are in New Hampshire and Arizona. The only operations they have in Connecticut are their corporate offices.

The next on my list would be either ASC or Stag Arms. ASC is actively considering it.

Scalise, his accountant, lawyer and a few industry colleagues are looking into a move to a friendlier state. And it’s not just ASC, a New Britain business with 100 employees, that might pull up stakes. Scalise’s other company in New Britain, Marsam Metal Finishing, and at least one other firm in the firearms industry are part of the joint plan.

In all, more than 300 people would lose their jobs or be forced to move to a locale like Arkansas, South Dakota, Kansas or Texas, to name just four states that are wooing Scalise with tax breaks, cheap labor and a government that has open arms for arms-makers.

“We’re doing a due diligence analysis state-by-state,” Scalise said.

Mark Malkowski of Stag is also considering moving.

Mark Malkowski, the 34-year-old founder of Stag Arms, said he grew up in New Britain, where the company is based, and had never before considered leaving the state. But he said he would consider it now.

“If our product is so bad, so dangerous, why would the state of Connecticut want us to produce it here, create jobs here, manufacture it here and ship it to all the other states?” he said.

You would also have to put Beretta up high on the list given their past statements.

As to the others, I foresee that they will move more and more operations out of state as time goes by.  While they all can “export” their products for now, you have to wonder how long the state will even allow that.

This all leaves one more entity to consider – the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It is hard for me to see just how long they can remain in Connecticut and not be considered to be tacitly endorsing the Connecticut gun control laws by staying.