The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

June 29, 2013

Maryland gun maker turns down W.Va. offers

Manchin is ‘truly disappointed in this cheap political shot’

CHARLESTON — An executive of gun maker Beretta USA said Friday the company turned down offers from officials and groups in West Virginia to relocate to the state because of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s role in the gun control debate.

Jeffrey Reh, general counsel and vice-general manager, cited comments from the West Virginia Democrat targeting high-capacity ammunition magazines. He said the company also has concerns with a provision in the measure Manchin has co-sponsored with Sen. Patrick Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, to expand gun buyer background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.

Beretta, based in Accokeek, Md., believes Manchin has joined forces with Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and vocal gun control advocate, leading the company to question whether “West Virginia was a pro-gun as we thought,” Reh said.

“That really caused us some consternation and concern,” Reh said. “We’ve decided not to consider West Virginia as a site for future expansion.”

Calling himself “a proud owner of two Beretta shotguns,” Manchin said Friday he was “truly disappointed in this cheap political shot their management has taken.”

“It’s shameful that Beretta, who seems to have no intention of moving from one of the most gun restrictive states in the country, is deceiving the great people of West Virginia in attempting to score a political point,” Manchin, a former governor, said in a statement.

Manchin has also tangled with the National Rifle Association. Both Manchin and the NRA have launched dueling TV ads as he seeks additional support for the background check proposal, which failed to advance in an April vote.

Then-House Speaker Rick Thompson, a Democrat, was among those who wrote Beretta earlier this year after it said it would consider moving operations out of Maryland, which has since enacted a strict gun control law. Among other provisions, it limits ammunition magazines and bans the in-state sale of 45 types of assault weapons, including models made by Beretta.

Beretta has two other companies in Maryland that import or sell firearms, and together its holdings employ about 400 people in the state. In his appeal, Thompson had cited West Virginia’s high gun ownership rate and said his state does not support the sort of gun control measures seen in Maryland. The Legislature passed several gun rights measures during this year’s session. Thompson championed this approach before stepping down to head the state’s Department of Veterans’ Assistance.

Background checks are meant to prevent criminals and the seriously mentally ill from purchasing firearms, but are mandated only for sales handled by licensed gun dealers. Among its provisions, the Manchin-Toomey proposal would exempt non-commercial transactions such as sales between friends and relatives. Manchin on Friday defended the measure as a commonsense and reasonable approach “that in no way infringes on our right to bear arms.”

Reh said he and executives from other firearms makers met with Manchin to discuss his proposal the day it stalled. Reh said they “had a very friendly but clear discussion,” but that he questioned a “very problematic” provision that gave gun shows priority for accessing the background check system.

Reh said that would stymie retailers both large and small on weekends, when dozens of gun shows are held throughout the country.

“The bill as drafted could have effectively prohibited checks at retail outlets,” Reh said. Manchin “felt that there was a way to work around that, but I haven’t figured out what that would be.”

Reh said he has responded to each of the dozen or so West Virginia overtures to his company. Other states courting Beretta include Virginia, Texas and Utah.

1
Text Only
West Virginia
  • Some state Democrats flip to GOP

    As Republicans rally for more control in West Virginia’s long-time Democratic Legislature, a few Democrats have jumped ship to the GOP and are challenging former colleagues in midterm races.
    Republicans face their biggest election opportunity in decades in the House of Delegates, where a four-seat swing would put them in power for the first time in 85 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads