Citing bills, Smith & Wesson moving HQ

Proposed legislation would bar manufacture of guns that can't be sold here


FIREARM MANUFACTURER Smith & Wesson announced Thursday that it will move its headquarters and “significant elements of its operations” from Springfield to Maryville, Tenn., citing a greater embrace of Second Amendment rights and a more favorable business environment in the Volunteer State.

The move, which will take place in 2023, will affect “upwards” of 750 jobs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Missouri, though the company said it expects to keep more than 1,000 employees in Massachusetts, which has been its home since its 1852 incorporation. All forging, machining, metal finishing, and revolver assembly will continue to take place in Massachusetts, the company announced.

Smith & Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith said he was concerned about legislation proposed on Beacon Hill that would prohibit his company and others from manufacturing certain types of guns and accessories, including assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, covered under the state’s existing ban on their purchase and possession.

“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,” Smith said. “While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60 percent 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.”

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Legislation  filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge and Sen. Cynthia Creem of Newton in May has been referred to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security and to the Joint Committee on The Judiciary, respectively. Smith & Wesson has drawn the ire of gun control advocates and other activists, and its Springfield headquarters has been the site of regular protests in recent years. (An op-ed in CommonWealth by Jim Jordan, the former director of strategic planning at the Boston Police Department, accused the state of having a blind spot on assault weapons.)

“Regardless of one’s personal views on gun control, this move is bad news for the hundreds of families who will lose stable, well-paying jobs,” Sen. Eric Lesser, who represents parts of Springfield, said. “Looking forward, I’ve already begun conversations with relevant public and private sector leaders about suitable reuse of the space and ways to assist the 550 impacted employees through training, job placement, and other means. It is my hope that the location remains vibrant and in keeping with the proud manufacturing tradition of our region.”