The gun-making giant Smith & Wesson has had its headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts since 1852. Now, after nearly 170 years, the company is moving its headquarters and hundreds of jobs to Maryville, Tennessee due to proposed Massachusetts gun legislation.
The legislation, if enacted, would prevent Smith & Wesson from manufacturing products characterized in Massachusetts as “assault rifles.” Such products accounted for more than 60 percent of Smith and Wesson’s revenue last year.
“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,” Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith said in a statement.
“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,” Smith added.
Back in April, Democrats in the Massachusetts Legislature filed bill HD 4192/SD 2588 that would prohibit Massachusetts companies, such as Smith & Wesson, from manufacturing weapons and devices covered under the existing ban, exempting those that would be sold to law enforcement, the military, or foreign governments.
Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), one of the bill’s authors said, “If we no longer produce and manufacture military-style assault weapons here in Massachusetts and we impact the ability [of] private citizens to access these weapons, we know there will be fewer mass shootings.
“We know [fewer] people will die.”
Rep. Bud Williams (D-Springfield), whose district includes Smith & Wesson’s headquarters and a manufacturing facility, described the bill as a “common-sense approach.”
“Gun rights advocates are going to make that conversation about my right to bear arms and all that. That’s far from the truth. These assault weapons are meant, plain and simple, for war,” Williams said.
Smith & Wesson’s Springfield Facility to Remain Operational
Smith & Wesson will not be closing its facility in Springfield, however. The company said that it will keep some manufacturing operations in Springfield — including pistol assembly, metalworking, and design engineering — and over 1,000 employees. To note, the vast majority of gun violence is committed using pistols.
S&W is also closing its facilities in Connecticut and Missouri to “significantly streamline manufacturing and distribution operations.”
The move of the company’s headquarters to Maryville, Tennessee will not begin until 2023. Workers’ jobs will not be affected before then.
Five hundred and fifty workers will be moved from the Springfield facility, 150 from Connecticut, and 50 from Missouri. Smith & Wesson said that employees who are unable to make the move to Tennessee will be offered “enhanced severance and job placement services.”
Smith & Wesson cited Tennessee’s Republican governor and GOP-controlled legislature’s “unwavering support of the 2nd Amendment,” a business-friendly environment, a lower cost of living, and a “favorable location for efficiency of distribution,” as other factors influencing the move.
“The strong support we have received from the State of Tennessee and the entire leadership of Blount County throughout this process, combined with the quality of life, outdoor lifestyle, and low cost of living in the Greater Knoxville area has left no doubt that Tennessee is the ideal location for Smith & Wesson’s new headquarters,” the company said.
Construction on the Tennessee facility will begin later this year. The facility will serve as the company’s headquarters and the location of plastic-injection molding, pistol and long-gun assembly and distribution.