On Saturday, Smith & Wesson hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and “fall festival” to mark the opening of its new headquarters in Maryville, Tennessee. The new 650,000-square-foot facility was announced in September 2021 as part of a $120 million relocation plan. Smith & Wesson decided to move its headquarters from Springfield, Massachusetts, where it had been located since 1852, in response to “legislation recently proposed in Massachusetts that, if enacted, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state,” including assault weapons, such as AR-15s, and high-capacity magazines.
At the time, Smith & Wesson CEO Mark P. Smith noted that “these products made up over 60% 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.”
Notably, Smith & Wesson AR-15s have been used in several recent mass shootings, including in Aurora, San Bernardino, Parkland, Poway, and Highland Park. A Smith & Wesson pistol was also recovered in the recent Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.
The grand opening featured shooting exhibitions, tours of the facility, and country music performances. Smith also spoke at the event, stating, “From where I stand, the next 170 years of Smith & Wesson are looking pretty good.”
Not everyone welcomed Smith & Wesson’s arrival, however. Nearby, protesters held a demonstration drawing attention to Tennessee’s victims of gun violence and the fact that guns are now the number one killer of children and teens in the U.S.
Tennessee currently has the 12th highest rate of gun deaths in the country and some of the weakest gun laws. In 2021, the state enacted a law allowing most adults to carry handguns in public without a permit, and weeks after the Nashville shooting, the state granted broad legal protections to gun manufacturers and dealers.