The history of American firearms begins in Massachusetts and some lawmakers all but want to kill it there as well.
It was during the American Revolution when Continental Army General George Washington ordered the creation of an arsenal to store ammunition and gun carriages in Springfield, Mass. That led to the founding of the Springfield Armory, which was where weapons were manufactured for every American conflict from the War of 1812 through Vietnam until it was closed by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1968.
The region of Western Massachusetts and Connecticut became known as “Gun Valley” in the years that followed as it was home to dozens of firearm manufacturers that sprang up over the years. These included such big names as Colt, Remington and Smith & Wesson. Today California and Texas are home to more gun-related jobs, but Massachusetts still ranks fifth in total economic output from the industry, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms trade association.
In what even seems like a contradiction, given that the Bay State employs so many in the firearms industry, Massachusetts now has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Yet some lawmakers in Massachusetts want to take it even further, and now pushing to ban “assault weapon manufacturing.” Such a move would certainly impact Smith & Wesson but also dozens of smaller gun manufacturers in the state.
The lawmakers don’t seem to care about the lost jobs as they claim it is about saving lives.
“Assault, military-style weapons manufactured right here in Massachusetts have been used to kill and slaughter children and people across the nation from Parkland to Aurora to San Bernardino to Las Vegas and too many other communities,” said State Rep. Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), The Boston Herald reported.
Decker and other Democratic lawmakers filed legislation (HD 4192 / SD 2588) on Tuesday, which would prohibit Massachusetts-based companies from the manufacturing of so-called “assault weapons” as well as high-capacity magazines. Both are currently covered under the state’s existing ban on the purchase and possession of those items.
Firearms that are manufactured for law enforcement, the military, or foreign governments would be exempt from the newly proposed ban, while handguns would also not be affected.
Assault Weapon Ban in Mass.
Massachusetts had first implemented a state ban on assault weapons in 1998 after a similar federal law had already been in place. In 2004, when the federal law was set to expire, then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed a permanent ban into law.
“If we no longer produce and manufacture military-style assault weapons here in Massachusetts and we impact the ability for private citizens to access these weapons, we know there will be fewer mass shootings,” added Rep. Decker. “We know less people will die.”
The Cambridge Democrat co-authored the bill with fellow Democrats Rep. Frank Moran of Lawrence, Sen. Cynthia Creem of Newton, and Rep. Bud Williams of Springfield, whose district includes Smith & Wesson’s headquarters and a manufacturing facility.
Williams has said he expects criticism from gun owners as well as from groups that support Second Amendment including the National Rifle Association.
“We have a responsibility when we see something that’s not right, that’s incorrect, we need to fix it,” Williams said. “They’re going to come charging. Gun rights advocates are going to make that conversation about my right to bear arms and all that. That’s far from the truth. These assault weapons are meant, plain and simple, for war.”
Currently, six other states have similar bans on firearms that include the AR-15, while three – including New Jersey, New York, and California – also ban the manufacture.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.