Massachusetts’ Republican governor will decide in about six weeks whether to ban assault weapons like the one used in last month’s tragedy in Parkland, Fla., raising the possibility that Smith & Wesson could move its North American operations out of the state.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the state would decide whether to seek a ban on assault weapons by July 21, adding that he was not convinced “every situation is going to require the ban on assault weapons.”
The governor said he was concerned that banning assault weapons would push many gun owners to switch to handguns instead, and said he was leaning toward supporting a ban on so-called high-capacity magazines.
“The problem is if you’re going to ban one class of gun, there are going to be other guns in those categories, so that’s why I’m focusing on the high-capacity magazines, which really aren’t used for hunting,” he said.
Massachusetts is unlikely to ban all guns — far from it. The state already has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, including a 1996 ban on assault weapons that is still on the books.
When banning assault weapons might be harder to do, according to the Journal report, is because unlike handgun restrictions, assault weapon restrictions are so narrowly tailored that they would need to be applied with a particular kind of weapon, rather than broadly expanding police powers.
Smith & Wesson of Springfield, Mass., manufactures the Springfield Armory line of firearms, including the handgun used in the Parkland shooting. The company, the world’s largest manufacturer of guns, employs 3,000 people in New England.
California, New York, and Oregon also have bans on assault weapons.