SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — The speaker of the Mississippi house is trying to convince one of the area’s largest employers, Smith and Wesson, to head south.
Speaker Philip Gunn sent a letter to Smith and Wesson Thursday, saying his state would be an ideal place to produce guns
“Mississippians are all very strong Second Amendment right supporters. We like to hunt,” Gunn said. “We love the shooting sports. We believe strongly in the right of a person to defend themselves.”
Gunn claims in the letter that the gun industry is being “attacked” and “demonized.” He also says Smith and Wesson won’t be criticized if they move to Mississippi because his state supports the gun industry and will provide an educated workforce for gun manufacturers.
Gunn sent the same letter to a total of 14 gun manufacturers, including Colt in Connecticut and Sig Sauer in New Hampshire.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says they already enjoy that here in western Massachusetts.
“I would put up Springfield and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts against Mississippi or any other state when it comes to skilled and educated workforce,” Sarno said.
Officials actually say they’ve actually gone out of their way to make sure that this area is a viable and attractive one for Smith and Wesson to remain in.
That includes tax breaks and partnerships with local schools, colleges, and veterans.
Speaker Gunn says gun makers are being targeted across the country. Sarno says as an urban mayor, his concern is closing loopholes and protecting city streets from violence, not taking away rifles from hunters.
“I’m not going to run and hide from my comments about sensible gun control,” Sarno said. “I’ve been up front about that and I think I’ve been respectful in those comments.”
Smith and Wesson has well over a thousand full time employees. They expanded operations and added 250 jobs last year.
Gunn says Smith and Wesson has not replied to his invitation.
Local leaders, including interim Massachusetts Senator “Mo” Cowan, say they likely won’t.
“I don’t think that a company like Smith and Wesson is going to fall for that kind of gimmicky move like that frankly,” he said.
“Smith and Wesson’s not going anywhere. They’ve been a vital and good corporate citizen here in the City of Springfield,” Sarno said.
ABC40 reached out to Smith and Wesson for comment. Our calls and e-mails have not been returned.