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Smith & Wesson gives $500k in gun rights drive

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey spoke during a news conference to announce the enforcement of a ban on the sale of copycat assault rifles on July 20. Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

The Springfield gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. has contributed $500,000 to the gun industry’s largest association to support voter registration and gun owners’ rights, citing Attorney General Maura Healey’s recent crackdown on “copycat” assault weapons.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a lobbying group based in Newtown, Conn., on Wednesday said that Smith & Wesson’s gift to its “#GunVote” campaign was the largest contribution it has received so far.

In a statement from the association, Smith & Wesson’s chief executive, James Debney, said: “We are honored to support this effort on behalf of our employees and especially the law-abiding firearm owners of Massachusetts, who have so recently been denied their fundamental rights through arbitrary government action that threatens to turn lawful gun owners and dealers into criminals.”


Healey last month announced plans to curtail the sale of guns that copy the Colt AR-15 or AK-47 and others that were banned in the state in 1998. She has since faced a backlash from gun rights activists and gun buyers, as well as from some lawmakers and Governor Charlie Baker.

Debney in the statement said voters should take into account Healey’s action. “It is imperative that citizens across our nation are informed and knowledgeable about their rights, their candidates, and the importance of their vote in this critical election year,’’ he said.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation said Smith & Wesson’s donation would support its voter registration and education campaign.

The foundation, which has funded college gun clubs around the country, including at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, last month on its website lashed out at Healey. The group said she was attacking the Second Amendment and threatened that “all legal options are being considered.”

A spokeswoman for Healey declined to comment Wednesday. In recent days, she has said she aims to enforce the existing law, not expand it.


Beth Healy can be reached at