PhillyDeals: In Del., Biden's son takes on assault weapons

Cabela's - which runs this store in Wheeling, W. Va. - plans to build a 110,000-square-foot store on I-95, near Christiana Mall. Officials had no comment on whether Delaware's proposed ban on assault weapons could affect that.
Cabela's - which runs this store in Wheeling, W. Va. - plans to build a 110,000-square-foot store on I-95, near Christiana Mall. Officials had no comment on whether Delaware's proposed ban on assault weapons could affect that. (DALE SPARKS / Associated Press)
Posted: January 16, 2013

While Vice President Biden has been wrestling with National Rifle Association lobbyists over new U.S. gun policies, his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, has joined with Gov. Jack Markell to propose banning sales or ownership of "military style" rifles.

Those guns would include the Bushmaster AR-15 that was used to kill 20 children and six staffers in an attack at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month.

The state proposals, backed by police and church leaders, would also ban sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for private gun sales, force reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and ban guns within 1,000 feet of a school.

Markell's and Biden's offices could not immediately tell me how their proposals are likely to affect Cabela's Inc.'s plan to build a 110,000-square-foot store on I-95, near Delaware's Christiana Mall. Markell's office did not notify Cabela's officials before the gun-policy statement was issued.

That's where Cabela's hopes to sell large quantities of guns, ammo, and cammies free of sales taxes to buyers from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and other East Coast towns.

"As a father, a veteran and the state's top law-enforcement officer, I know that military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, designed for battle, have no place on our streets," the younger Biden said in a statement Monday. "These proposals are a reasonable and sensible approach that will improve public safety and respect the Second Amendment," guaranteeing gun owners' rights.

Representatives of Cabela's, one of several gun-dependent retailers whose share prices fell despite higher sales after the Newtown murders, did not respond to requests for comment.

No sale on bakery

The newly shuttered Hostess Brands bakery in Northeast Philadelphia is not among the 20 Hostess bakery sites that Tastykake owner Flowers Foods has offered to buy, Flowers spokesman Keith Hancock tells me.

Bankrupt Hostess stopped production of Wonder Bread and Acme hot-dog rolls and boxed doughnuts, Ho Ho's, and other snacks at the Blue Grass Road plant in November, idling 400 bakers and drivers.

"It's very personal. I worked there 22 years, with the folks affected by this Hostess catastrophe," Hank McKay, vice president of Local 6 of the bakery workers' union, told me.

Production stopped Nov. 9, when workers at the plant and other Hostess centers walked out on management's demand that they accept a roughly one-third pay cut (from the current average $17 an hour) over four years, plus higher medical payments. Hostess announced the closing two weeks later.

Squeezed by ill-timed acquisition debt, disappointing sales, and rising costs, Hostess failed to update its plants to match bakeries owned by competitors like the Horsham-based U.S. arm of Mexico's Bimbo bread conglomerate. McKay's union represents Bimbo workers at bakeries near Norristown ( Stroehmann bread), Hazleton ( Entenmann's cakes), Reading, Easton, Carlisle, and Williamsport.

Is there any future for the Blue Grass Road bakery? "I'm trying to find that out," McKay said. "Everybody's been interested in that plant, but they haven't invested."

Flowers is building its own local bread lines at a former Tasty Baking site in Oxford, Chester County. Bimbo last week announced plans for a new bakery in Macungie Township, in the Lehigh Valley.

"The industry badly needs to improve its capacity issue," analyst Jonathan Feeney wrote in a note to clients of Janney Capital Markets.

East of river

Drexel University keeps expanding into Center City, this time leasing 186,000 square feet at Three Parkway (1601 Cherry St.) for its nursing school.

As part of the move, academic and administration offices of Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions will move from the Bellet building, 1501 Race St., into five stories of the 20-story Three Parkway tower. The medical school will take over the Bellet space. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank's James Egan and Jeff Tertel found the space for Drexel.

Contact Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194,, or on Twitter @PhillyJoeD.

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