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Gunmaker tops list of Massachusetts’ 100 best companies

Gunmaker Smith & Wesson tops the list of best businesses in bright blue Massachusetts — after not making the list at all last year — a new report in the Boston Globe found.

The 161-year-old company, based in a state with some of the stricter gun control laws in the nation, tried to diversify its holdings by acquiring a security company in recent years, only to do an "about-face" by focusing on its product line, the newspaper said in its explanation of the Springfield firm's top spot.

"We went back to what we do best, which is handguns," CEO James Debney told the Globe. "We divested the security business very successfully and since that point have not looked back."

While known for its revolvers, Smith & Wesson's fastest-growing product line is in modern sporting rifles, which are sometimes referred to as "assault rifles."

Democrats in Washington have tried, unsuccessfully, to curb the sale of such firearms in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., with Republican lawmakers saying Congress should be more focused on lawbreakers than responsible gun owners who enjoy the high-performing rifles.

"It's become an important piece of our business," Mr. Debney told the Globe. "But at the end of the day, we come back to our core competency, and where we're strategically focused, in terms of product, is the [military and police] pistol."

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