From the mid-19th century to today, many U.S gunmakers have called New England home. Storied brands like Colt, Winchester, and Smith & Wesson were all headquartered in “Gun Valley”, a region stretching from central Massachusetts down into Connecticut. Over the past few years, however, the anti-gun politics in those New England states have made the location an increasingly hostile territory for gun makers, and now one of the biggest names in the firearms industry has announced it’s pulling up stakes and striking out for greener pastures.
Smith & Wesson has announced that it’s moving its headquarters from Springfield, Massachusetts to Marysville, Tennessee, investing $125-million in its new property and bringing 750 jobs with them.
“Our pro-business reputation, skilled workforce, and commitment to the Second Amendment make Tennessee an ideal location for firearms manufacturing. We welcome Smith & Wesson to The Volunteer State and are proud this U.S.-based brand has chosen to relocate from Massachusetts. Thanks for your significant investment in Blount County and for creating 750 new jobs,” Gov Bill Lee said.Earlier this year, the announcement was made that another gun maker, Troy Industries, relocated to Clarksville.
Sponsored by Cambridge Rep. Marjorie Decker, Lawrence Rep. Frank Moran, and Newton Sen. Cynthia Creem, the legislation would ban manufacturing of “any assault weapon or large capacity feeding device” in Massachusetts, unless it’s for the purpose of selling to law enforcement or military agencies.
Decker, who referenced research showing that assault weapons account for 85 percent of mass shooting deaths, argued that the bill would afford residents in other states the same protection that are in Massachusetts, in wake of the recent spate of deadly rampages across the country. Gun control advocates — including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker — have credited the strict gun laws in Massachusetts for the state’s lowest-in-the-country firearm death rate.
“We have empirical data, both here in Massachusetts and across the nation, that shows us a clear path to stopping the killing of children, the slaughtering of people, by reducing access to assault weapons of civilians and private citizens,” Decker said.
What the data actually shows is that more people are killed by criminals using their own fists and feet than a rifle of any kind, but why let the facts get in the way of fearmongering?
While the proposed ban on making modern sporting rifles and magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition didn’t make it to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk this year, the writing is clearly on the wall for the gun makers of Massachusetts. Why spend the money on capital improvements to factories or hiring and training workers when the Democrats in control of the state legislature are trying to make it impossible to do business there? At some point the risks of staying in place outweigh the longstanding history and relationships with existing employees, and thanks to the anti-gun attitudes of Massachusetts lawmakers, that day is here.
Mark Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, said “This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative.” He specifically cited legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts that, if enacted, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state. “These bills would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing firearms that are legal in almost every state in America and that are safely used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens every day exercising their Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights, protecting themselves and their families, and enjoying the shooting sports. While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60% of our revenue last year, and the unfortunate likelihood that such restrictions would be raised again led to a review of the best path forward for Smith & Wesson.”
The company says it will work with individual employees to help them relocate to Tennessee if they want to, and will offer “enhanced severance and job placement services” for any who can’t or don’t want to make the move. The relocation is expected to take place in 2023, and for now anyway the company plans on keeping the production of revolvers in place at the Springfield factory… at least until the anti-gun politicians in Massachusetts decide that those should be banned as well.