Smith & Wesson is moving its headquarters from Massachusetts to Tennessee, citing the southern state’s “unwavering support of the Second Amendment” as well as its lower cost of living.
The decision to depart New England was “an extremely difficult and emotional” one, Mark Smith, the gun-maker’s president and CEO, said Thursday in a statement. The company, based in Springfield, Massachusetts, since 1852, will spend $125 million on the relocation, it said.
As many as 750 jobs will move from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Missouri to Maryville, Tennessee, by the summer of 2023, according to Smith & Wesson.
Smith & Wesson said it saw little choice: Massachusetts recently proposed legislation that would, if enacted, bar the production of firearms that made up more than 60% of the company’s revenue last year.
Massachusetts in 2004 banned the purchase of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. A bill introduced in the state legislature in April would prohibit companies from manufacturing those same devices, other than those sold to law enforcement, the military or foreign governments.
The lawmakers sponsoring the proposal said it came in response to firearms made in Massachusetts being used in multiple mass shootings in other states.
The country sawon record last year, with murders rising 30% nationwide in 2020, according to data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks gun-related violence in the United States, recorded 43,559 gun deaths in 2020, compared to 39,538 the year before.
Another firearms manufacturer, Troy Industries, pointed to the “changing climate” for the firearms industry in Massachusetts in its May decision to move its operations from West Springfield, Massachusetts, to Clarksville, Tennessee.