Anti-gunners protest Smith & Wesson's move to Tennessee

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

While the gun control lobby expends a lot of time and energy portraying itself as only interested in “reasonable” and “moderate” regulations on the right to keep and bear arms, every now and then they let the mask slip and reveal themselves to be utterly opposed to any and all gun ownership. Whether it’s Gabby Giffords telling Time magazine that her goal is “no more guns” or the handful of anti-gun activists who turned up in Maryville, Tennessee this past weekend to protest Smith & Wesson’s headquarters moving from Massachusetts to the Volunteer State, there are plenty of signs that the gun control movement is aimed at prohibition, not just “universal” background checks or even a ban on so-called assault weapons.

Over the weekend Smith & Wesson celebrated the opening of their new facility in eastern Tennessee, while the activists turned out to object to the gun maker’s mere existence in the community.

The $160 million facility in Maryville is bringing nearly 800 jobs to the area. President and CEO of Smith & Wesson Mark Smith said they chose East Tennessee because of its community.

“The unwavering support for the second amendment and our business and our industry that we feel in Tennessee, at the end of the day was the absolute hands down deal maker for us,” Smith said.

Not everyone in the area sees the new facility as a positive thing. Gun safety advocates with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action held a demonstration protesting against the gun manufacturer moving in. Gun violence is something Chris Buice is all too familiar with.

“It shatters schools, it shatters communities, it shatters families,” he said.

Buice is a minister at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, where two people were killed in a mass shooting in 2008.

Not even a month later, a student was killed in a shooting at Central High School where Buice’s daughter attended at the time. He also said there was a shooting at his high school when he was a student, where a security guard was shot and killed. Buice’s son attended Austin-East Magnet High School, a community that’s been impacted by various acts of gun violence over the years.

He joined Students Demand Action in protesting the new headquarters.

“I’d like to see our elected leaders be as responsible as our young people are, I’d love to see our elected leaders care as much about the safety of children as our young adults are,” Buice said.

One of those young adults was Iman Omer, a student at Vanderbilt University who has worked with Students Demand Action since 2018.

“Gun violence has really hit home in March with the Covenant shooting, and our community is already going through so much grief and trauma,” Omer said. “So, Smith & Wesson coming in to Maryville, setting up their headquarters here and manufacturing guns here, it affects all of us in Tennessee.”

Yes it does. The 800-or-so jobs provided by Smith & Wesson’s new facility is going to be an economic boon to eastern Tennessee, and the region will be better off as a result of the gun company moving its headquarters from Massachusetts to a state where most residents and lawmakers actually respect the right to keep and bear arms instead of trying to legislate it into non-existence.

Buice and the many of the other activists who showed up to protest Smith & Wesson this past weekend may have experienced real trauma, but the guns that were involved in the crimes he described didn’t pull the trigger all by themselves. At the heart of every one of those tragic incidents was a living, breathing, human being who made the choice to do harm to others, and that’s the real issue.

Even in states like California, which has the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, violent criminals are still able to easily (and illicitly) get ahold of a firearm, and prosecutors routinely shrug their shoulders and offer plea deals. In Berkeley, for instance, three suspects were recently arrested for a string of armed robberies, and as it turns out all of them have prior contacts with law enforcement. One of the arrestees even ran afoul of California’s gun control laws, only to see the charges dismissed in a plea bargain agreement.

All three defendants have been charged with crimes in Alameda County before.

[Heaven] Gulley, who also goes by the name Paris Brinkley, according to court records, was charged in a gun possession case in 2022 that included ID theft charges.

The gun charges were dropped through a plea deal last year and she was placed on probation for ID theft into 2024.

A month after the gun case was filed, and while she was on probation, Gulley was charged with vehicle theft and receiving stolen property.

In a second plea deal last year, she was convicted of vehicle theft but the other charge was dropped.

Gulley was released on $5,000 bail and ultimately placed on a second course of probation into 2024.

Then, in January of this year, Gulley was charged with felony evasion and two separate vehicle thefts in Oakland, from November and December 2022, along with other crimes.

That whole case was dismissed in February as a result of a plea in another case, according to court records. (Gulley has no other cases listed, however, aside from the three noted above and the new one from September.)

In court papers, officers from numerous cases described spotting Gulley driving stolen cars and arresting her when she tried to run from them.

Funny how we never see activists from Everytown or Students Demand Action protest plea deals or prosecutors, isn’t it? It always comes back to the gun, or the gun maker, or lawful gun owners. Rarely if ever are the perpetrators of these crimes even acknowledged by the anti-gunners, unless it’s to accuse the firearms industry of marketing their products to deranged killers. The truth is that the gun control lobby isn’t interested in “common sense” or “reasonable” measures to improve public safety. It’s all about “radical incrementalism“; placing more and more restrictions on gun owners until the Second Amendment is gutted and our right to keep and bear arms has been prohibited altogether.