Nevada should join states wooing gun companies

Many a relatively recent arrival to Las Vegas is heard whining that their adopted state in “last in everything.” Ignore for the moment the fact that they’re often wrong — Nevada is now near the national median in both tax collections (more’s the pity) and tax-funded school spending, for example.

More to the point, why did they move here if their main criterion was a high level of taxation and repression? Freedom often pays dividends, while threatening freedom can have real costs.

Firearm manufacturer Beretta USA has its U.S. headquarters in Maryland. But proposed new restrictions on firearms sales — including a ban on the semi-automatic look-alike rifles improperly dubbed “assault weapons” by some — drew the ire of a Beretta executive at a recent legislative hearing there, The Associated Press reports. The bill spurns Beretta’s longstanding commitment to the state, Jeff Reh, a member of the company’s board of directors, told lawmakers.

Maryland’s Senate president, Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, responded, “We’ve allowed them to manufacture. We’ve allowed them to sell.”

“Allowed”? Such generosity!

It didn’t take long for other states to notice.

Politicians in Virginia and West Virginia have said they would welcome Beretta if it chose to leave Maryland. Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault, in a letter to the head of Magpul Industries this week, said he read “with shock and disdain” reports of new gun laws in Colorado, the home of the firearms accessory and magazine manufacturer. “Though many feel the actions taken by your state government were appropriate,” he wrote, “we in Alaska do not.”

A group of self-described constitutional conservatives in the New Hampshire legislature, the House Republican Alliance, are pitching the state as a haven for gun companies. The group recently sent letters to Beretta and Colt Manufacturing Co. in Connecticut. Both companies have voiced frustration with proposals in their states that aim to tighten background checks as well as ban normal-capacity magazines along with so-called “assault weapons” (real Class 3 machine pistols are already heavily regulated, and thus scarce as hen’s teeth.) “We’re the ‘Live Free or Die’ state,” comments GOP Rep. Al Baldasaro.

Nevada has her own traditions of gun rights and low taxation — as well as a hunger for economic diversification. And we certainly don’t lack room for shooting ranges. If other states are making the firearms industry feel unwelcome, it’s time for the Silver State to put out the welcome mat, as well.

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