A Utah lawmaker wants to entice gun manufacturers to set up business in the state and has begun work on legislation to offer incentives.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said he saw an opportunity for Utah after Maryland’s governor recently signed gun control legislation that Maryland-based gun maker Beretta called offensive.
The company issued a statement saying it was thinking of shifting some operations to other states.
Stephenson said he’s planning a bill for the next legislative session that might attract Beretta and other gun manufacturers to Utah by reducing restrictions and eliminating sales tax on machinery and parts used to make guns.
If the effort gains traction, the legislation might be taken up when lawmakers convene in January for next year’s session.
The gun control law signed earlier this month by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is one of the toughest in the country. It requires people to submit fingerprints to state police to get a license to buy a handgun, limits gun magazines and bars people who’ve been involuntarily committed to mental health facilities from owning guns.
The measure also bans 45 types of assault weapons, but those who currently own the weapons will be able to keep them.
It does not require gun makers in the state to stop producing assault weapons.
In its statement, Beretta said legislators made concessions that shifted the bill “from being atrocious to simply being bad,” with elements such as the fingerprint requirement that will burden citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights.
“The idea of now 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,” the statement said.
In a post on an official Utah Senate blog, Stephenson called the situation an exciting opportunity for Utah and said he wants to open discussions about luring Beretta and other gun manufacturers to Utah.
“This is all about jobs,” Stephenson told the Daily Herald in Provo. “I’d like to put an invitation to all the fugitive arms manufacturers that Utah is open for business and welcomes them here.”
Stephenson said several lawmakers have already said they’d like to join his effort because it supports Second Amendment rights and will provide an economic boost to Utah