The 169-year-old firearms manufacturer cited the increasingly hostile political climate in Springfield, Illinois

The 169-year-old firearms manufacturer cited the increasingly hostile political climate in Springfield, Illinois

Smith & Wesson, the iconic 169-year old firearm manufacturer cites “hostile political climate” as reason for moving its historic Springfield, IL headquarters.


"This has been an extremely difficult and emotional decision for us, but after an exhaustive and thorough analysis, for the continued health and strength of our iconic company, we feel that we have been left with no other alternative," said Mark Smith, Smith & Wesson CEO and President, who announced the relocation of the company's headquarters and other major operations from Springfield, Massachusetts to Maryville, Tennessee.


The company has announced plans to build a $120 million facility in Maryville by 2023 and eventually close the Springfield location that once forged famous firearms like the .357 magnum revolver. 


Smith & Wesson claims it saw no other option: Massachusetts recently proposed legislation that, if passed, would prohibit the company from making firearms, which accounted for more than 60% of its revenue last year. 


The state prohibited the purchase of high-capacity magazines and military-style assault weapons in 2004. In April, a bill was introduced in the state legislature that would prohibit companies from manufacturing the same devices, except for those sold to law enforcement, the military, or foreign governments. 


In their proposal, the lawmakers stated that many mass shootings took place in other states with firearms made in Massachusetts. They said their proposal would help reduce mass shootings elsewhere if passed, since it would close a ‘loophole’ in existing law that allowed the weapons to be manufactured and sold across state lines. According to data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, homicides involving guns reached their highest levels in history last year, with murders rising 30% nationwide. 


Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Bob Rolfe told the Boston Globe the company first approached him about expanding its manufacturing presence in the state, but he then pitched the idea of moving the entire headquarters during a dinner meeting with company executives.


After about six months of talks between the company and Tennessee, a deal was reached. 


"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.” says Smith.

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The company will become Blount County's eighth-largest employer after the move.

There are currently 20 manufacturers of small arms and ammunition in Tennessee, and the addition of Smith & Wesson will make Tennessee the No. 1 state for manufacturing jobs in the industry, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development. 


The move follows the decision by fellow gun manufacturer Troy Industries to move out of Massachusetts. In a statement published last month, Troy Guns announced it was moving 75 jobs to Clarksville, Tennessee, citing the changing business climate for gunmakers in the state.


Smith & Wesson will break ground on a new facility in the fourth quarter of 2021 and aim to have it completed by 2023. Smith said that the company offers enhanced severance packages and employment placement services to employees who don't wish to move to Tennessee.  


Smith & Wesson plans to keep more than 1,000 jobs in Massachusetts. Staff in Massachusetts will continue to perform metalworking, design engineering and other functions. However, Smith & Wesson will close facilities in Connecticut and Missouri and shift some functions to Tennessee.

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