Smith & Wesson Factory Springfield
Smith & Wesson's Springfield, Massachusetts factory (Dan Z. for TTAG)
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By Larry Keane

Out of curiosity, are there any governors out there who might be interested in bringing a historic manufacturing business to their state? It’s one that employs thousands and contributes to over $4.5 million in state and federal taxes for a $2.4 billion economic impact. Massachusetts lawmakers are thinking about shooting the gunmaker geese that are laying golden eggs in the Bay State.

No one is saying that major manufacturers are looking to move, but Massachusetts lawmakers are all but mailing eviction notices. Four Massachusetts lawmakers introduced bills in the state legislature to ban manufacturing of “any assault weapon or large capacity feeding device,” unless manufacturers are selling those products to law enforcement or military agencies.

It’s a bold move that’s raising eyebrows in the Bay State and might just get other states interested in rolling out the welcome mat.

Smith & Wesson Factory Springfield
The state of Massachusetts wants to put these people out of a job. (Dan Z. for TTAG)

After all, Massachusetts is home to Smith & Wesson Manufacturing Company. They’re the highly-successful rifle and pistol maker based in Springfield, Mass. They’ve made a name for themselves with their Military & Police (M&P) line of semiautomatic handguns and Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs).

Smith & Wesson Factory Springfield
Dan Z. for TTAG

To be clear, MSRs can’t be sold by retailers to anyone but law enforcement or the military in Massachusetts. The state banned the sale of the most popular-selling centerfire rifle in America to their citizens in 1998 and the state attorney general published an Enforcement Notice in 2016 that included so-called “copycat” versions.

Not One, But Three

Smith & Wesson isn’t the only gunmaker to call Massachusetts home. Savage Arms is located in Westfield, Mass., and their union member employees also make MSRs, along with a line of rifles and shotguns. Don’t forget, too, Kahr Arms still has manufacturing in Worcester. They’re headquartered in Greely, Pa., a move the company made when New York passed their SAFE Act and compelled the owners to move their manufacturing, jobs, tax revenue and economic impact across state lines.

Smith & Wesson Factory Springfield
Dan Z. for TTAG

It’s happened before. And not just with Kahr. Smith & Wesson moved distribution and warehousing operations in Missouri in 2019. Here’s a short list of companies that sought friendlier business environments when states passed business-crushing laws.

  • Alabama
    • Remington Outdoor Company moved much of its production from New York to Huntsville.
    • Kimber expanded production to Troy, over Yonkers, N.Y. It later relocated the corporate headquarters to Alabama.
  • Iowa
    • Les Baer moved from restrictive Illinois to LeClaire, Iowa, in 2007.
    • Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) left Illinois after 40 years to relocate to Iowa in 2019.
  • Mississippi
    • Olin Corporation’s Winchester Ammunition moved from East Alton, Ill., to Oxford in 2011.
  • North Carolina
    • Sturm, Ruger and Co. expanded production in Mayodan in 2013.
  • South Carolina
    • American Tactical relocated 100 jobs and its manufacturing from Rochester, N.Y., to Summerville, S.C., in 2013.
    • PTR Industries left Connecticut for Aynor in 2013, where it set up shop.
  • Tennessee
    • Beretta moved firearm production and engineering and design to Gallatin, Tenn., from Maryland in 2015 over concerns of increasingly strict gun control legislation.
  • Texas
    • Mossberg expanded production in Eagle Pass, Texas, in 2013, instead of growing its New Haven, Conn., plant.
    • Colt Competition moved from Canby, Ore., to Breckenridge, Texas, in 2013.
  • Wyoming
    • Magpul Industries left Boulder, Colo., after the state passed magazine restrictions and moved production to Laramie, Wyo.
    • Weatherby Inc.’s Adam Weatherby announced at SHOT Show in 2018 he was moving the company from California to Sheridan, Wyo.
    • Accessories maker HiViz announced in 2013 they were leaving Fort Collins, Colo., over restrictive gun control legislation to Laramie.
    • Stag Arms announced in 2019 they were opening their new facility in Cheyenne, Wyo., after leaving their former headquarters in New Britain, Conn.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

 

 

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Ain’t it amazing how dems always drive thousands of good paying jobs outta their states and then desperately search for someone else to blame!!??

    • It works out for them because all they need is one Bezos or Zuckerberg in the state to say “our states revenue is X times that of those red states!” as the non-Zucks are sleeping in tents and shitting in the streets.

    • Yup…all the while demanding a bail-out from the Federal public trough for their wasteful, unsustainable choices. Since they have no sense of personal responsibility or a personal ante in the Game, they believe that they should not be held accountable…therefore, in their minds, everyone, everywhere should pay for their failed ideological / social experiments.

  2. Smith and Wesson please relocate to Flathead county Montana…my dream retirement job would be to work part-time manufacturing / assembling / servicing S&W revolvers…maybe we could even get rid of the “Hillary Hole” once you’re here. Bring your talented employees with you, lots of room for conservative, skilled, workers up here…Progressive Socialists Communists need not apply.

  3. Alabama, and it’s business friendly and Second Amendment embracing atmosphere, would gladly welcome, Smith & Wesson, Savage, and Kahr. Bring your employees, too. They’ll be very satisfied. And, there are many qualified potential employees here as well. Check us out, you will be pleasantly surprised!

  4. That’s a lot of companies moving in recent years, and for what? The Democrats are acting like children, holding their breath until they turn blue. All they’ll accomplish is to force gunmakers to upgrade production facilities with their relocations.

  5. A sad commentary on a state that was the birthplace of the revolution. The Founding Fathers would be furious to see what politicians have done to curtail liberties AND who the people themselves have elected to make such shameful legislation. I mean, how can you even go through the historical places in Boston without thinking of the tyranny the British imposed there? It took more than statesmen to take up the case, the change for independence came about because good people, patriots, took up arms and the cause for liberty. Massachusetts seems to have forgotten this.

    • USP Marion is now just medium security. USP Florence (Colorado) has been the Supermax for some time now.

      Frankly, most politicians would soil themselves at the prospect of having to spend the weekend at an FCI low security camp.

  6. Ruger has been very successful with handgun manufacturing in Prescott, Arizona. The state could easily absorb more gun makers

    More gunmakers should flee those States sporting infringements upon Constitutionally enumerated rights. It would serve those States right for being so utterly ignorant and unaware that the problem they are really upset about is not the inanimate object of a gun but the thinking, reasoning human who does violence,

  7. Business considerations aside these gun manufacturers and related businesses should also look at the states who are resisting the federal tyranny. Because if push comes to shove there might be some more of that secession stuff. These manufacturers wouldn’t want to be arming the wrong side if it came to that.

    • Texican……….They should all move to red states that believe and defend the Second Amendment. After moving they should cut off sales to the blue states. After the coming split they will have to use Chicom stuff. ( Ed from Texas )

  8. S&W always had just enough clout to head off ludicrous bills like this one. I’m not sure it still does. Either way, S&W needs to get away from Springfield. It’s a criminal’s delight.

  9. So, S&W made a name for themselves with modern sporting rifles and plastique? Not sure how anyone could seriously write that drivel.

  10. The first question I have is this: How is it that this proposal does not run afoul of the Commerce Clause, where it prohibits a gun manufacturer from producing firearms that are not sold to resident civilians of Mass but instead to only to LEO and to residents of other states where such arms are legal?

  11. So proud of my home state of MO. Shades of blue keep popping up but that Missouri independence always keeps it in check.

  12. Smith and Wesson has slowly been moving to and acquiring land in Missouri.
    If you order S&W parts then they will likely come from a warehouse in Missouri.
    They have a new 75 million dollar warehouse near Columbia, Missouri.
    American Outdoor Brands isn’t stupid, they are even moving Crimson Trace there.

  13. “Remington Outdoor Company moved much of its production from New York to Huntsville.”

    That plant and land its on is for sell last I heard……

  14. I’m not sure the leftists in this country have thought this through. When the inevitable “divorce” happens in this country all the weapons manufacturers will be located in red states.

    If leftists had any brains, they wouldn’t be leftists.

  15. I formed the legislative and activist committee for NRA back in ’07 when Les Baer’s move hit some serious opposition at the first reading of his proposal at the Le Claire City Council meeting. Out-of-town money and activists ambushed the meeting with the usual “blood in the streets” and “weapons of war” BS so a few members of the IA Statehouse and local (or at least from Iowa) citizens filling the second meeting evaporated the resistance, much to the dismay of the area news media who attended en masse. At the time I was hoping we could hook Springfield Armory’s Westrum and the other makers clustered on the Illinois side of the Mississippi to join Baer but no takers- why they’d choose to remain is still a mystery to me.

    Anyway, if S&W, Kahr, or any other manufacturer would like to move here I’ll gather a defense committee and help pave the way. We not only have a gun-friendly and business-friendly atmosphere but out political scene is for the most part, conservative and we also have an outstanding state gun rights organization in Iowa Firearms Coalition that can jump in on a moment’s notice. Pack up your tooling and come on over!

    • Smith and Wesson never believed they would come for them. They believed they were selected for “special” protection. From the Left. They were wrong.

    • Yeah, they highlighted that Magpul moved much of its operations to Wyoming, but forgot that Magpul moved its HQ to Texas — it’s literally across the road from me!

  16. Libertarians Liberals and the Left have proven they are not interested in a strong and growing industrial base in the United States. They’re not concerned about growing the economy and reducing regulations. Donald Trump did these things and people still complained about him. He lowered business taxes and reduced government regulations. Which produced the greatest economy and the lowest unemployment numbers we’ve ever had.

    But that wasn’t enough. All they care about is butt sex and legalizing drugs. And now apparently making sure that a man can call himself a “woman”. And then use the ladies bathroom.
    The steel industry built this country. Not the sex toy industry. Not the marijuana industry. But they do want to replace Big Tobacco with Big Marijuana.

    People don’t want to hear it but.
    If you don’t like the state you’re in. If you don’t like the regulations and taxes. Then you move. That goes for an individual, family, or private business.

    btw
    And in some cases that actually means leaving the United States. Which is what Donald Trump wanted to change. By making the United States more business-friendly.

  17. Come to Florida!
    We are business friendly, gun friendly, have no income tax, and have many gun companies here already. Sccy, Spikes, Taurus, Keltec, I O, Knights, are all located here.
    There is a huge pool of skilled machine workers along the space Coast, and transportation hubs to the rest of the country.
    Land is still cheap once you get a mile or so away from the coast.
    Florida also offers tax breaks on equipment purchases, and other incentives including expedited permitting to companies moving here.
    And our citizens are allowed to buy your products.

  18. Why any firearms manufacturer stays in the Northeast, where they obviously aren’t welcome, is beyond me. If I were a company, not only would I move my company, but I would pay to move every employee with me, depriving the state of even more revenue and ensuring a quick resumption of production.

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