President Joe Biden calls for gun control as sales soar for Smith & Wesson, Savage Arms

SPRINGFIELD – President Joe Biden celebrated the three year anniversary of the mass shooting at a Florida high school over the weekend by calling on Congress to pass stricter gun control laws.

Arms sales are now brisk. The state background checks performed in January 2021, roughly equivalent to sales, totaled more than 4.3 million. This compares to 2.7 million background checks in January 2020.

In all of 2020, there were nearly 40 million background checks, according to the FBI, compared to 28.3 million in 2019 and 26.2 million the year before.

According to federal statistics, more than 2,000 jobs in Greater Springfield are tied to the small arms industry. These include jobs at Smith & Wesson in Springfield and Savage Arms in Westfield. It’s the legacy of the Springfield Armory.

Smith & Wesson said it posted profits of $ 52.2 million in the last quarter, compared to $ 1.3 million in the same period last year.

President Joe Biden speaks at the Pentagon in Washington on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.AP Photo / Alex Brandon, Pool

On Sunday, Biden called for background checks on all arms sales, a ban on offensive weapons and high-capacity magazines, and the removal of arms manufacturers immunity in lawsuits related to gun violence.

“We owe it to all of those we have lost and all of those who have been left behind to make a change,” Biden wrote in a press release. “The time to act is now.”

On February 14, 2018, a gunman armed with a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle died of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“In a matter of seconds, the lives of dozens of families and the lives of an American community were forever changed,” wrote Biden. “For three years now, the Parkland families have been spending birthdays and holidays without their loved ones. They missed the experience of sending their kids to college or seeing them on their first job after high school. Like far too many families, they had to bury parts of their souls deep in the ground. How far too many families – and indeed our nation – have they wondered if things would ever be right. “

Smith & Wesson declined to comment on Monday.

There was also no comment when the parent of a student killed in Parkland filed a federal complaint alleging the manufacturer used false and misleading advertising to promote the M&P15 .223 rifle used in the attack. The complaint alleged that the marketing program attracted, encouraged and supported mass shooters.

Smith & Wesson launched Gunsmarts, a multimedia campaign aimed at educating first-time buyers about the safety of guns.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation hit back on Biden Monday, pointing out that today more than 20 million of what Biden calls assault rifles – the industry rejects the term – are in circulation and used for legitimate purposes.

“His demand that Congress ban the modern sporting rifle (MSR), which it knowingly mislabels as” assault rifle “and” weapon of war “denies the fact that more murders are committed with knives, fists and clubs than all rifles combined.” said the organization.

Smith & Wesson has approximately 1,484 manufacturing employees, most of them in its factory and headquarters on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield.

Savage Arms, specializing in hunting and targeting rifles, employs 400 to 500 people, said CEO Al Kasper.

Kasper said he didn’t feel the need to respond to Biden’s testimony until Congress acts, and he said it could be a long way in the future.

However, he cautioned not to see the strong recent trend in arms sales as a political statement or in response to unrest. They’re in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Kasper said, by people looking for outdoor recreation. Shooting and hunting are all the rage because it is an activity that is available and socially distant.

MassWildlife reported high harvests for deer, bears and other wildlife this year. This is another indication that more people were moving into the forest while other recreational activities were being stopped.

Kasper expects the trend to continue.

“Things have changed under this pandemic. And these changes will be long-lasting, ”he said.

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