Smith & Wesson bailing out of blue Massachusetts

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

This is probably a long-overdue development and one that may set an example for employers who operate out of states where they are shown no respect and are openly abused. Smith & Wesson is one of the oldest and most venerable firearms manufacturers in the United States. Since the company’s inception in 1852, it has been headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts, providing thousands of jobs and supporting subsidiary businesses in the region. But that’s largely coming to an end soon. The company will be relocating both its headquarters and significant portions of its manufacturing operations to Maryville, Tennessee and they’ll pull off the move in only two years. Why? It appears to have to do with a classic Aretha Franklin song and something the company isn’t getting in the Bay State.

Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., one of the nation’s oldest firearms manufacturers, announced today that it is moving its headquarters and significant elements of its operations to Maryville, Tennessee in 2023. Smith & Wesson has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since the company was incorporated in 1852.

Mark Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, said “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.” He specifically cited legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts that, if enacted, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state. “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. While we are hopeful that this arbitrary and damaging legislation will be defeated in this session, these products made up over 60% 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.”

What the CEO is referring to is the pending passage of a new law that would prohibit the manufacturing of so-called “assault weapons” in the state of Massachusetts. It’s a move that anti-Second Amendment activists have been pushing for years. The idea is one that the Boston Globe described earlier this year as something that would be, “an important statement of principle for policymakers to enact such a ban.”

One person’s important statement of principle is another’s boneheaded idea that winds up costing you thousands of high-paying jobs. But to each their own, I suppose.

In deciding on the site in Tennessee, the company looked toward a number of factors. They weren’t exactly being subtle about what was driving the move, either.

  • Support for the 2nd Amendment
  • Business friendly environment
  • Quality of life for employees
  • Cost of living and affordability
  • Access to higher education institutions
  • Availability of qualified labor for its operations and headquarter functions
  • Favorable location for efficiency of distribution

You’ll notice which factor made the top of the list, right? Support for the 2nd Amendment. That’s something that has been extinct in most of Massachusetts for some time now. The rest of the factors are nearly as pointed. The state certainly doesn’t provide a business-friendly environment, particularly with their “tax the rich” attitude. They also knock the quality of life offered for their employees currently and the outrageous cost of living in Taxachusetts.

The company is following the pattern of Remington Arms which finally pulled up stakes and left Ilion, New York, where they had operated forever. And for all of the same reasons.

And who can blame them? Why would such a successful company stick around and keep providing so many jobs and prosperity for the state when they are continually protested and reviled, not only by activists but by the state legislature who seeks to punish them for engaging in perfectly lawful and popular commerce, all to score points with liberal, anti-gun fanatics? This should have happened years ago.

The company isn’t pulling all of its facilities out in 2023. At least not for the time being. The current plan will see them leaving a few production lines there, supporting roughly 1,000 jobs. But if things work out well down south, those could be moved at a later date in a second phase. The company is also generously offering individual relocation help, both financial and logistical, for any workers who wish to make the move with them. Those unwilling or unable to move to Tennessee will receive enhanced severance pay and company-funded job training and employment services.

The people of Tennessee (and their elected representatives) will welcome all of these jobs and the supporting economic activity and prosperity that accompanies them with open arms. Meanwhile, Massachusetts will become yet another blue state that taxed and burdened its own citizens and employers to death and will now struggle to fill the hole that Smith & Wesson will leave behind. And that’s exactly what they deserve.