Gun Industry Tough Times

In this Jan. 19, 2016 file photo, handguns are displayed at the Smith & Wesson booth at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas. 

(The Center Square) – Executives with firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson cited gun laws pending in the Massachusetts legislature as their reason for moving the company’s headquarters to Tennessee in 2023.

The Massachusetts facility will be “reconfigured,” the company said in a news release. The company will also close facilities in Connecticut and Missouri and move them to Tennessee. The move will affect about 750 jobs in Massachusetts, Missouri and Connecticut.

The decision was difficult for executives as the company originated in Massachusetts in 1852, but it had “no other alternative,” president and CEO Mark Smith said in a statement.

“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."

Smith cited a specific measure. State Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, D-First Middlesex and Norfolk, has introduced a bill that would prohibit manufacturers from producing assault weapons or guns with a “large capacity feeding.” Manufacturers could face up to $1 million in fines and up to 10 years in prison for not complying.

The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee in June.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact that this difficult decision will have on so many of our dedicated employees, but in order to preserve future jobs and for the viability of our business in the long term, we are left with no choice but to relocate these functions to a state that does not propose burdensome restrictions on our company," Smith said. "We are making this announcement now to ensure that each employee has the time to make the decision that is right for them and their families.”

Construction on the new Maryville facility will begin later this year with completion expected by 2023.

Smith thanked Tennessee officials for their support of the 2nd Amendment and for “creating a welcoming business-friendly environment.”

“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,” Smith said.