Beretta, a 400-year-old Italian gun manufacturer, got the Prince George's County government yesterday to begin manufacturing handguns and shotguns in the county.
Part of the county's so-called "new quality" program of providing incentives for economic growth, the loan will enable F.I. Industries, a newly purchased Beretta subsidiary that will manufacture the weapons, to buy equipment to produce more than 25,000 handguns a year.
Leo Goldsmith, president of F. I. Industries, said one of the guns to be manufactured is the .25 caliber Beretta pistol popularized as the weapon preferred by the fictional James Bond.
F. I. Industries has been assembling small, inexpensive handguns at its plant in Accokeek for several years. Goldsmith acknowledged that such weapons are called "Saturday night specials" by gun control advocates.
Goldsmith said the new Beretta line, replacing the weapons now produced at Accokeek, will be more expensive and sold only to "reputable dealers."
Under terms of the loan, to be insured by the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, the county will borrow $400,000 at 7 1/2 percent interest through bond sales or a bank or other lending institution and then lend it to F. I. Industries. The company must repay the loan within seven years.
Bob Polley, chairman of the county's Economic Development Commitee, said the plant would "bring in more needed tax revenue" and "offer more jobs in the southern area of the county."
Goldsmith said the company ultimately will employ 122 persons and will manufacture, repair and distribute shotguns as well as handguns.
The loan was approved by the County Council, 6 to 3.
Council member Samuel W. Bogley, one of those who voted in the minority, said the county should not "subsidize with our good name a business whose product is already creating a deleterious impact on our citizens. These are not guns used by sportsmen, they do not have accuracy. These are small, easily concealable weapons who best use to date has been in crime."
Goldsmith said, "we just want to be good neighbors.