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Mall Shooting Reignites Gun Control Debate

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McCorkel Meghan 370x278 (2) Meghan McCorkell
Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The shooting at the Mall in Columbia has reignited debate over gun control laws here in Maryland. Now gun manufacturer Beretta announces it will bring a big chunk of its business out of state.

Meghan McCorkell has more.

Last year, Maryland passed some of the strictest gun regulations in the country. It was a shotgun obtained legally that 19-year-old Darion Aguilar used to kill two people and then himself inside the Mall in Columbia.

“Had it been a more lethal type of weapon, it could have been very much worse,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

“What if it had been done with an assault weapon? We would have had a terrible tragedy like in Aurora, Colo. or Newtown,” said Vincent DeMarco, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.

Last year, sweeping gun laws banned assault weapons in Maryland but now that ban may be losing Maryland jobs. Gun manufacturer Beretta–based in Prince George’s County–has announced they’ll build a new plant in Tennessee. The new $45 million facility is expected to generate 300 jobs.

“We’re simply at the limit of our production capacity in Maryland,” said Jeffrey Reh, Beretta USA.

Lawmakers that voted against the gun control measures say they were warned this was going to happen.

“Unfortunately, it’s no surprise. Beretta last year, they were very concerned about the gun law that was passed. It outlawed AR-15s; that’s a product that they sell,” said Delegate Neil Parrott.

“It’s a real loss for the state of Maryland because Beretta not only had good jobs, they were high-paying skilled jobs,” said Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga.

Beretta officials say they want to expand in a state that respects Second Amendment rights.

“This law protects people from gun violence without in any way infringing on Second Amendment rights,” DeMarco said.

Beretta is expected to keep its U.S. headquarters in Maryland–for now. Lawmakers warn it is a real possibility that the company could move out of Maryland altogether. Beretta employs about 300 people at its Maryland headquarters.

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