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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Students Demand Action rally against Smith & Wesson headquarters grand opening

Smith & Wesson is the nation’s largest gun manufacturer and opened their new headquarters in Maryville, Tenn. on Oct. 7.
Amelia Simpson
Students Demand Action protest sign at walkout following The Covenant School shooting, as photographed on April 3, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Amelia Simpson)

Vanderbilt’s chapter of Students Demand Action rallied on Oct. 7 at the grand opening of Smith & Wesson’s new headquarters in Maryville, Tenn., to call attention to the company’s role in the gun violence crisis of the U.S. Joining SDA were gun violence survivors, family of gun violence victims, Maryville’s Moms Demand Action and more. 

At the protest, SDA flew a banner attached to a plane that read “Tennessee’s new killer business guns are the #1 killer of kids.” 

“We’re here today to call out Smith & Wesson’s irresponsible practices and demand accountability — because despite being aware of the harm their guns cause, all we see is business as usual, and we won’t stand for that,” junior Zack Maaieh said at the protest.

Maaieh is a member of Vanderbilt’s SDA chapter and SDA’s national board.

“The gun industry chooses to perpetuate gun violence by advertising to minors and using toxic militaristic and fear-mongering language, all instead of promoting gun safety and innovating to make their guns safer,” Maaieh said.

SDA also spoke of the consequences of The Covenant School shooting, declaring that Smith & Wesson’s new headquarters are the “last thing they need.”  

“As a native Tennessean, it’s heartbreaking that our community has already gone through tragedy and grief with the Covenant school shooting but now have to deal with this horrific news,” junior Iman Omer, a volunteer leader with Vanderbilt Students Demand Action, said.

Omer, who spoke at the protest, urged attendees to sign their petition to demand Smith & Wesson to reassess the safety of their products and end the marketing of their products to younger generations. 

According to Everytown Research, gun violence claims an average of 40,000 lives each year and costs American taxpayers $557 billion nationally in police investigations, medical treatment and victim care. 

Smith & Wesson is the nation’s largest manufacturer of assault weapons. Their original headquarters were located in Springfield, Mass., with Massachusetts being one of the strictest in the country regarding gun safety and laws. The state requires buyers to go through processes such as background checks and training before legal purchase.

In comparison, in the past few years, Tennessee has changed their laws to allow both open and concealed carry without requiring a permit to carry a firearm. 

According to Maaieh, it is “hurtful” that Tennessee’s legislators have not passed more extreme gun safety legislation and allowed a prominent gun manufacturing company to continue to perpetuate the “‘killer business’ gun industry” in Tennessee.  

“Whatever jobs they bring to the state can never justify the thousands of Tennesseans that are shot and killed using the guns they irresponsibly manufacture and sell, as well as the unquantifiable amount of trauma our communities continue to face,” Maaieh said.

Smith & Wesson is the second leading manufacturer of recovered crime guns in 2021. Meanwhile, the rate of gun deaths in Tennessee has increased 52% from 2012 to 2021, and their AR-15 guns have been used in mass shootings across the country such as Parkland, San Bernardino and Aurora.

“Tennessean communities are facing the consequences of their killer business every single day,” Maaieh said. “As long as [Smith & Wesson] continue their reckless behavior unchecked, we will show up and hold them accountable.”

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About the Contributors
Alysa Suleiman
Alysa Suleiman, Social Media Editor
Alysa Suleiman (‘26) is from Cupertino, Calif., and is majoring in political science and communication studies in the College of Arts and Science. As a amateur cook, she also enjoys testing out dorm recipes as often as possible. You can reach her at [email protected].
Amelia Simpson
Amelia Simpson, Staff Photographer and Graphics Staffer
Amelia Simpson ('25) hails from Brisbane, Australia and is a student in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in public policy. Outside of her work in the Hustler’s multimedia sections, Amelia is a member of the club rowing and equestrian teams. You can reach her at [email protected]
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9 months ago

I haven’t seen anything reckless or irresponsibly done by Smith and Wesson. I’ve never seen a jet plane, car, baseball bat, knive or firearm being tried for murder. It’s people that commit crimes. Firearms have been used in self defense but I see no mention of that in this biased article.

7 months ago
Reply to  RAD57

Firearms can definetly be used for self defense, but that goes the other way around as well. Any criminal can easily get their hands on a gun nowadays. Whether its through gunshows, or state regulation loopholes. I think what the group is trying to aim for is a way for regulation to at least enforce a level of security. I think its necessary for at least a background check to be done. Background checks aren’t necessarily bad, all they do is check if you have a bad record and should be trusted.

All I know is that there are situations in Arkansas where Domestic Violence coupled with gun violence goes without any action being done. All the police can do is just check if the victim is fine, but due to our governer, they can’t hold back the gun from the abuser.

9 months ago

Funny these gun control groups do more to sell guns much faster then any gun sales department at any of the corporations could ever do. They constantly gather and the frenzied gun sales goes through the rough. Of course Smith and Wesson wants them there to increase gun sales across the board. 😉

9 months ago

Isn’t it a bit late for this type of thing?