Smith & Wesson Leaving Massachusetts as State Weighs Production Ban on Assault Weapons

Reacting to the Massachusetts Legislature's proposal to ban certain firearms, gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson announced intentions to move its headquarters to Tennessee, the Associated Press reported.

The gunmaker, established in 1852, said it is spending $125 million to relocate its Springfield base due to legislative proposals that would ban them from manufacturing assault weapons, according to officials.

The Democrat-led Legislature is weighing its options to ban the sale and possession of assault weapons or large-capacity magazines, a sweeping gun control measure that would also outlaw their manufacturing, unless for military or law enforcement purposes.

"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," Mark Smith, Smith & Wesson CEO, said in a news release.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Smith & Wesson
Gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson announced Thursday that it plans to move its headquarters from Massachusetts to Tennessee. Above, trade show attendees examine handguns and rifles at the Smith & Wesson display booth at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas on January 14, 2014. Julie Jacobson, File/AP Photo

Tennessee's Department of Economic and Community Development said Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. will move its headquarters, distribution, assembly and plastic injection molding operations to Maryville, 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Knoxville. Groundbreaking is planned before the end of the year.

One of the reasons to head to Tennessee, the company reasoned, is its "support for the 2nd Amendment."

Tennessee has moved to loosen gun restrictions in recent years under Republican leadership. Earlier this year, the state became the latest to allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns without a permit that requires first clearing a state-level background check and training.

The company said the move will not begin until 2023. The jobs will be relocated from the Massachusetts facility, which will remain operational but will be reconfigured, and from facilities in Deep River, Connecticut, and Columbia, Missouri, both of which will close, the company said.

The Connecticut plastic injection molding facility will be sold, while the Missouri facility used for distribution will be marketed for sublease, the company said.

With the move, the company will go from four to three locations, with no effect on the facility in Houlton, Maine. Some manufacturing operations will remain in Massachusetts and the company plans to continue to have more than 1,000 employees in the state.

The gunmaker will have company in Tennessee: Officials said the state is home to more than 20 small-arms and ammunition manufacturers.