Gun Manufacturing's Large Role in MA Economy Has Not Deterred AG Healey

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It was good, I guess, that the Massachusetts Medical Society weighed in Tuesday in favor of Attorney General Maura Healey’s actions strengthening the state ban on assault weapons by expressly having it cover an array of so-called “copycat” weapons.

It was good, too, that 19 mayors from across the state announced yesterday that they have put their support for the AG’s position on copycats in writing.
But I was sold on the idea July 20, the day Healey undertook this particular initiative, when I read that Boston Police Commissioner William Evans was in her corner. 

If the person ultimately responsible for protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Bostonians and keeping the peace in our capital city thinks it’s a good idea to keep copycat assault rifles out of Massachusetts, that’s good enough for me.
No regulatory change, however, is ever likely to alter this strange fact of life: Massachusetts is hopelessly bifurcated on the issue of firearms.

We have some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and some of the busiest, most profitable gun manufacturers in the nation.  We’re a liberal state delighted to supply conservative states with all the guns they want.
We who live under the Route 128 bubble too often forget that the making and the marketing of deadly weapons is a big, booming business in the Bay State.   

“The economy of Western Massachusetts and the entire Knowledge Corridor Region has been steeped in the production of firearms since 1777, when George Washington selected Springfield as the site of the nation’s first arsenal,” the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts proudly notes. 

Since that time, says the Council, “the area has spawned a number of arms manufacturers, accessory manufacturers and job shops to support the industry.  These major players within the world of firearms production, Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms, Ruger, Colt, Marlin & Mossberg, were not only an epicenter for innovation during the industrial revolution, but are still developing advanced manufacturing techniques today.”
According to a current year “State by State Economic Impact Report” from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the spectrum of gun manufacturing in Massachusetts accounts for 7,091 jobs. 

The total annual payroll for these jobs stands at $515,414,900, and the annual per-employee wage and benefit package averages $72,686, the NSSF reports. 
These are what Mike Dukakis was very fond of calling “good jobs with good wages.”

When she announced her crackdown on copycat assault rifles, the Attorney General, to her credit, was not looking over her shoulder at the gun industry’s half-a-billion-dollar Massachusetts payroll and the seven thousand Massachusetts families holding secure spots in the middle class because of the vigorous American trade in guns.

She was what John Kennedy, one of Dukakis’s heroes, would have called “a profile in courage.”

ADDENDUM, 9-13-16: I read a post on the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) blog yesterday about how AIM will be honoring 11 Massachusetts companies with its 2016 Next Century Awards over a five-week period beginning next Tuesday, Sept. 20.  Among those companies will be Smith & Wesson of Springfield.  The section of the post describing Smith & Wesson, its contributions to Western MA economy, and its philanthropic activities was informative and pertinent, so I decided to add it to the above post.  Here it is in its entirety:

Smith & Wesson has been a cornerstone of the Pioneer Valley manufacturing economy since Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson began to produce the Model 1 revolver in Springfield in 1856. The company’s storied history traces an arc from the old west to the Imperial Army of the Russian Tsar to outfitting thousands of laws enforcement officers in the United States and abroad.

But beyond its own success, Smith & Wesson has been a crucible of technology and skills that have fueled the development of a metal machining hub in western Massachusetts that now serves industries from aerospace to medical devices.

Smith & Wesson Corp. today is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of firearms. The company is expected to generate more than $900 million in annual sales in its current fiscal year.  It also employs more than 1,700 people, most at its sprawling manufacturing plant on Roosevelt Avenue.

Smith & Wesson has delivered tremendous organic and inorganic growth in firearms, and in 2010 moved 225 new jobs to Springfield as a result of its earlier acquisition of Thompson/Center Arms in New Hampshire.

In addition to growing its historical and sizeable firearms business, Smith & Wesson has recently expanded beyond firearms.  It acquired accessories maker Battenfeld Technologies in 2014, and in August of this year added Taylor Brands to its list of acquisitions.  Taylor is a designer and distributor of high-quality knives and specialty tools.

Then Smith & Wesson purchased a leader in laser sighting products, Crimson Trace.  Smith & Wesson paid $180 million in cash for both the Crimson Trace and Taylor acquisitions. 

In addition to Smith & Wesson’s rich legacy of supporting philanthropic efforts in the community throughout the decades, the company has more recently taken a visible role in addressing the critical shortage of trained machinists that is affecting all areas of Massachusetts. The Smith & Wesson Technology Applications Center was created at Springfield Technical Community College to host STCC’s manufacturing and engineering technology programs, which prepare students for jobs in modern, computerized precision-machine shops.  It’s is just one of many programs that the company has supported to help deliver economic growth.

Among Smith & Wesson’s best known products over the years have been the .38 Military & Police Revolver, now known as the Model 10, a firearm that has been used extensively by police forces and has been in continuous production since 1899; the Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver made famous by Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies; and the popular M&P line of polymer pistols and rifles.

Smith & Wesson Corp. is the main operating subsidiary of the publicly traded Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.



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