Massachusetts, Gun Control And The Future Of Smith & Wesson

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 3 months ago

News from what was once the land of liberty, the home of the venerable John Adams, who along with Abigail fomented a revolution against the tyrant.

State lawmakers looking to balance safety with the rights of gun owners and the state’s burgeoning gun industry spent Friday listening to folks from both sides of the issue.

Michael J. Ball is a Marine Corps veteran and head of the student shooting club at the University of Massachusetts. He said everyone wants safety, and gun owners are willing to work to make sure the mentally ill and criminal can’t get their hands on firearms.

“I think there is common ground,” Ball said.

The hearing, held at the American International College’s Griswold Theatre, is the latest in a series of public forums on a number of proposed changes to the state’s gun laws. Proposals include requiring gun owners to buy insurance, limiting magazines to seven rounds, down from 10, and limiting gun buyers to just one gun purchase in 30 days.

Massachusetts legislators filed 60 pieces of legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. This legislative committee’s job is to whittle that down to a package of workable laws, probably by fall.

About 150 Smith & Wesson employees had lined up outside the theater for seats nearly an hour before the forum began. The venue seats 500.

William Innocent, of South Hadley, whose grandson Sheldon Innocent was gunned down in a Springfield barbershop in 2011, called for the state to search for a way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and away from the mentally ill or suicidal. The shooter, an escaped inmate, was trying to kill someone else out of revenge.

“I just hope we all, gun owners and non-gun owners, can work together to stop gun violence,” Innocent told the packed auditorium.

[ … ]

On Thursday Smith & Wesson president and CEO James Debney told The Republican the company wanted to ensure its voice — and the voices of its 1,500 employees — were heard at the forum.

In remarks to the panel Friday morning, Debney described Smith & Wesson as “… an industry leader that is committed to safety,” selling only through federally licensed dealers and including a lock with each firearm. Citing the company’s large number of employees, Debney said the company hopes to remain in the city for a long time.

Founded in Springfield in 1852, Smith & Wesson has more than 1,600 employees, including 1,500 production workers at its sprawling firearms plant on Roosevelt Avenue. The company has a $77.5 million annual payroll.

In terms of any new gun regulations, Debney asked the state not to infringe on residents’ Second Amendment rights. Instead, the executive suggested that Massachusetts report mental health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Massachusetts requires the collection of mental health records for an in-state database, but does not require those records to be submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Other Smith & Wesson employees also spoke against laws that could erode gun owners’ rights. David Findlay, of Athol, an engineer for the company, said, “The real issue is how we deal with mental health in this country.”

A revolver assembly worker for the company told the panel that he makes objects that either function or fail. “Violence is from the heart,” he said, making the argument that only people can be blamed for gun violence.

Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno called for limits on magazine capacity, but prefaced the request with a nod to Smith & Wesson. “They are a responsible employer,” Sarno said of the company. “They are a good corporate citizen.”

“No one is looking to take away anybody’s Second Amendment rights,” Sarno said.

And another state lawmaker said the same thing: “One thing we want to stress,  it’s no one’s intent to step on anyone’s 2nd Amendment Rights,” said State Representative Harold Naughton.

Debney also said in his prepared remarks that:

“Massachusetts is our home,” said Debney at the company’s sprawling Roosevelt Avenue factory. “All you have to do is look behind you at the hundreds of (computer numerically controlled ) milling machines. They are not going anywhere.”

Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Rick Perry specifically lobbied gunmakers in Connecticut and New York state to relocate to Texas. Debney said he gets numerous solicitations form states all over the union.

“We are not listening,” he said. “It all happens here.”

But Debney acknowledged that any firearm restrictions would further cement Massachusetts’ reputation as an “anti-gun” state. There could be a consumer backlash against Smith & Wesson similar to the hate which flowed from gun owners after Smith & Wesson cooperated with Clinton-era gun restrictions.

“It almost took down the company,” he said. “We won’t make that mistake again. At the end of the day, shooting is a passionate sport.”

First of all, a quick note to Sarno and Naughton.  Stepping on second amendment rights is exactly what you intend to do, and you’re both liars.  As for Debney, his issues are more complicated.

He has his feet in two worlds.  He makes it clear that S&W is staying put.  They are in Massachusetts to stay, says he.  On the other hand, S&W won’t make the same mistake again.  Of course, the mistake to which he is referring is aligning themselves with Bill Clinton’s gun control, a mistake which almost killed the company.

But times have changed.  Firearms companies can no longer simply make it clear that they oppose additional gun control.  Magpul knew better and is moving from Colorado, and so did Beretta who is moving from Maryland (and they had better not lollygag and delay as they seem to be doing – we’re watching).

Gun owners won’t send money to companies who will give tax revenues to totalitarian states.  This is the reason Remington will eventually have to move from New York or perish in spite of the silly article they persuaded National Review to do praising the company.

Here’s a note to Debney.  You won’t win.  Massachusetts is too far gone, and the statists have too much sway to turn back the tide of gun control.  Gun owners won’t approve, and Smith & Wesson will suffer from the decrease in revenue.  Gun owners never forgive and never forget.  Our actions are based on principle and well grounded in the soil of moral economics.

Make your decision now.  You can relocate to a free state where the workers are non-union, the people loyal and the land vibrant, or you can stay put and die on the vine.  As for me, I have two Smith & Wesson weapons, both of which I love.  I had intended to buy more, but if Smith & Wesson stays in Massachusetts, I won’t spend another penny of my hard earned money on revenue for Massachusetts to enact more gun control.

Time is of the essence.  South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas and a host of other free states beckon you.  You will soon reach the point of no return, where you have spent too much energy and time on trying to ameliorate an unmanageable situation in Massachusetts.  Your time is better spent on calling the board of directors together and forming a strategy for survival.  Your future depends on it, and you must move quickly.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On August 5, 2013 at 5:37 am, GetMeOuttahHere said:

    As a life long resident of Assachusetts, I am on a two year plan to unass this state. The problem for me is finding a state immune to the collectivist virus.
    Smith and Wesson should do their employees a favor and leave Assachusetts.

  2. On August 5, 2013 at 9:22 am, Herschel Smith said:

    South Carolina: No more than three hours from the coast and mountains no matter where you choose to live. The upstate is the best, in my opinion.

  3. On August 5, 2013 at 9:47 am, Roger J said:

    On Feb. 25, I wrote a letter to an S&W exec, simply asking them to follow the lead of a number of smaller firearms companies and refuse to sell items to government agencies in states that do not allow civilian shooters to purchase those same items, for example magazines of over 7 round capacity in New York. I received no reply to my letter, in which I stated I was the owner of seven S&W handguns. As a result, there will be no more in my safe. I had been looking at the M&P Shield, but will buy a competitor’s product instead. It isn’t as if S&W makes the only single stack subcompact 9 on the market.

  4. On March 29, 2014 at 2:48 am, Scott Brown said:

    Late reply to say, I too have sold every S&W gun I have except the one I inherited. I won’t send ANY money to the economies of places like CA and MA.

  5. On August 5, 2013 at 9:56 am, Herschel Smith said:

    This was a serious decision for me, and not one that comes without a cost. I really wanted another S&W revolver, and now I’m trying to figure out where to go to get a well made 1911 from a free state. Kimber? => New York. Springfield Armory? => Mass. S&W? => Mass. Remington? => New York.

    So where do I turn?

  6. On August 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm, Mark Matis said:

    Are any of these acceptable, Herschel:
    Or is Florida too far gone as well? I understand the Rove Republicans are large and in charge, but there are a significant number of Floridian-Americans (heh – gotta love hypenation) who are not very tolerant…

    But then I’m not a short-gun fan, so these may not meet your needs in ANY way…

  7. On August 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm, George Quix said:

    The moral compass of S&W has been broken for years. There are numerous other manufacturers from which to choose.

  8. On August 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm, Roger J said:

    Herschel, I’d suggest Sig Sauer for your 1911 – from “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire. Also Ruger SR1911s are made in Arizona, though the company HQ is still in Conn. FYI, Springfield Armory is in Illinois, not Mass (just as bad, though.) The old Federal armory at Springfield, Mass. is now a museum.

  9. On August 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    Springfield, Ill. Herp … derp … bangs head, I knew that, I just typed too fast. Really. I did know that.

    But I looked at your suggestion for Sig 1911 and really like them.


  10. On August 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm, Gunny G said:


    COME TO ALASKA. We welcome freedom loving Americans AND JOBS with open arms.

  11. On August 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm, Mark said:

    Herschel, I believe Nighthawk Custom is based out of Arkansas, if you can swing their prices. There is also Para-Ordnance, which has moved from Canada to North Carolina.

  12. On August 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    I see Para-Ordnance is right here in Pineville, N.C. Yep. I’ll have to be visiting their shop. Thanks for the suggestion.

  13. On August 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm, rob said:

    I also was planning on a new smith revolver but as it stands now I will look else where. Smith and Wesson is out of the question as long as they stay in Mass.

  14. On August 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm, Paul Bonneau said:

    Hoplophobes have to live somewhere. You can’t persuade them with logic, and you can’t kill them or otherwise make them go away. We should encourage them all to move to states like Massachusetts, leaving the rest of the country free – or more free anyway. If they want to live in crime-infested hellholes, that is their business.

    And yeah, S&W should bite the bullet and bail. I’m still annoyed that Kimber moved FROM Oregon TO Yonkers. What was in their mind?

  15. On August 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm, Steve in TN (@sdo1) said:

    Tennessee, Texas, and Florida have ZERO state income tax. All three have decent gun laws.

  16. On August 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm, Mac said:

    My advice is be careful where you go – if all gun manufacturers relocated to Texas, then Texas would become the number one target for gun grabbing politicos to infiltrate, subjugate, intimidate, and hate.

    A better strategy is to relocate the MANUFACTURING facilities to several different states, so no single legislative act in one state can put your business at risk. I would suggest a border area between two or more free states, so that in the event that one state becomes un-free, they can relocate the plant across the border, and keep the same workforce.

    Several different facilities also gives the company options to close a facility here or there, and move that portion of the business to an already existing shop.

    Putting all your eggs in one basket is for suckers.

  17. On August 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    The South is welcoming and big enough for all gun manufacturers, Mac.

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You are currently reading "Massachusetts, Gun Control And The Future Of Smith & Wesson", entry #11071 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Gun Control,Guns and was published August 4th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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