For the first time in its storied 168-year history, iconic American firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson will be relocating its operational headquarters.
In a news release Thursday, the gunmaker announced that it has finalized plans to leave Springfield, Massachusetts, and relocate to Maryville, Tennessee, in 2023, citing the state's "unwavering support of the Second Amendment."
President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith characterized the decision as "an extremely difficult and emotional" one, but one his team felt like they needed to make due to newly proposed legislation in Massachusetts that would, if enacted, prohibit the company from manufacturing semi-automatic weapons in the state.
"For the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative," Smith said, adding later that even if the legislation is ultimately defeated, the prospect of continued anti-gun legislation in the state made it imprudent to stay.
"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," the CEO argued.
Smith called the legislation in question "arbitrary and damaging" and noted that the potentially banned products made up over 60% of the company's revenue in 2020.
As for the gunmaker's future home, Smith had nothing but positive things to say. The company's decision to move to Maryville rested on key factors such as "support for the 2nd amendment," Tennessee's "business friendly environment," as well as "cost of living and affordability" for employees.
"The strong support we have received from the State of Tennessee and the entire leadership of Blount County throughout this process, combined with the quality of life, outdoor lifestyle, and low cost of living in the Greater Knoxville area has left no doubt that Tennessee is the ideal location for Smith & Wesson's new headquarters," Smith said.
He added: "We would like to specifically thank [Republican Gov. Bill] Lee for his decisive contributions and the entire state legislature for their unwavering support of the 2nd Amendment and for creating a welcoming, business friendly environment."
The gunmaker expects to spend $125 million on the relocation and said that as many as 750 jobs will be moved from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Missouri to Tennessee by summer 2023.
Another firearms company, Troy Industries, cited the "changing climate" for the gun industry in Massachusetts when it announced a move in May from West Springfield, Massachusetts, to Clarksville, Tennessee.
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