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.
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).
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.
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.
- 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
- Beretta moved firearm production and engineering and design to Gallatin, Tenn., from Maryland in 2015 over concerns of increasingly strict gun control legislation.
- 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.