Citing "the changing business climate for firearms manufacturing in Massachusetts," Smith & Wesson said they are relocating their historic headquarters to a more pro-gun climate.
The move, announced Thursday, would see S&W's headquarters and "significant elements of its operations" including 750 jobs move from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Maryville, Tennessee, by 2023. While the famed American gun maker has been based in Springfield since 1852, company officials say it is time for a change.
“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," said Mark Smith, the company's President and Chief Executive Officer.
“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," said Smith. "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."
S&W, with some 1,700 employees, has been lauded by industrial trade groups in Massachusetts for their contributions to the state economy and a “rich legacy of supporting philanthropic efforts in the community throughout the decades,” to include creating manufacturing technology application programs seen as a model for the rest of the commonwealth and leading efforts to go green through the use of solar energy.
Other high-profile gun builders with smaller operations in Massachusetts include Savage Arms and Yankee Hill Machine, the latter founded in the state.
The company’s plastic injection molding facility in nearby but no less gun restrictive Deep River, Connecticut, will also be sold as part of the move, with a portion of its operations moved to Tennessee.
Figures provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation stress the firearm industry already employs nearly 7,800 people in Tennessee through direct or indirect jobs and contributes over $1.07 billion in economic impact. The firearm industry pays $130.5 million in federal and state taxes annually and contributed an additional $22.1 million in excise taxes that benefit wildlife conservation.
GUN MAKERS KNOW WHEN THEY AREN'T WANTED
S&W likely saw the writing on the wall and has been steadily pushing distribution to a state-of-the-art facility in Missouri. Troy Industries, who like S&W long called Springfield home, announced a move to Tennessee earlier this year.
When Colorado adopted a magazine capacity limit in 2013, Magpul kept a promise to leave the state, moving the next year to facilities in Wyoming and Texas. More recently, Weatherby, a rifle maker that called California home for generations, relocated to Wyoming as well.
Finally, although they called Illinois home for over 40 years, LMT, formerly known as Lewis Machine & Tool, pulled stumps in 2019 and opened a new factory just across the state line in pro-2A Iowa. They may have learned the trick from Olin-Winchester, as the ammo maker may be headquartered in the Land of Lincoln, but for the past several years has concentrated production in Mississippi, a constitutional carry state with industry-friendly practices.
“This follows a pattern of firearm and ammunition manufacturers that are migrating to states that respect the contributions of the firearm industry and respect the Second Amendment rights of those who purchase their products,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The decision to expand production by any firearm manufacturer is indicative of the strong and vibrant market of lawful gun ownership. Firearm sales have been at record levels for more than 18 months and this investment in the future shows that the leading firearm manufacturers see a market with continued room for growth.”