Smith & Wesson’s Ousted CEO Ed Shultz: ‘I Don’t Regret’ Gun Control Deal with Bill Clinton

No president since Bill Clinton has convinced a gun maker to make as many concessions as Smith & Wesson did. (Photo: Kenneth C. Zirkel)

Smith & Wesson’s ousted CEO Ed Shultz doesn’t have any regrets.

In an extended interview with Mass Live, Shultz told the outlet that he still believes he made the right decision when he inked a gun control deal with the Clinton administration that nearly bankrupted the company.

“I don’t regret it,” Shultz said. “At one point, both sides were genuinely trying to come to some agreement.”

Shultz came to that “agreement” with President Bill Clinton after a mountain of lawsuits leveled by the anti-gun lobby threatened to send Smith & Wesson into bankruptcy proceedings. But while the National Rifle Association and other gun companies worked to pass legislation protecting gun makers from frivolous lawsuits, Shultz raised the white flag and came to the anti-gun table.

“Today I am pleased to report that a key member of the industry has decided to set a powerful example of responsibility,” Clinton said at a press conference in 2000. “For the very first time, a gun manufacturer has committed to fundamentally change the way that guns are designed, distributed and marketed.

SEE ALSO: BREAKING: Smith & Wesson to Relocate Headquarters to Tennessee

As Clinton himself explained, Smith & Wesson agreed to include locking devices and “other safety features” on its firearms; develop “smart guns” that can be fired only by the adults who own them; “cut off” dealers who sell guns that turn up at crime scenes; require all its dealers not to sell at gun shows unless every dealer conducts background checks; develop new firearms that cannot accept “high capacity” magazines; and work with ATF to provide “ballistics fingerprints” for all its firearms.

In return, Clinton and his gun-ban allies agreed to call off their dogs and drop the lawsuits against Smith & Wesson.

The reaction from the Second Amendment community was swift and decisive. The NRA described the deal as “an act of craven self-interest,” and other industry leaders quickly organized a boycott.

“Smith & Wesson, Inc., a British-owned company, recently became the first to run up the white flag of surrender and run behind the Clinton-Gore lines, leaving its competitors in the U.S. firearms industry to carry on the fight for the Second Amendment,” the NRA said.

One of the nation’s largest gun wholesalers decided to stop selling Smith & Wesson products, and sales and stocks plunged.

Before long, Smith & Wesson’s British owner decided to sell the company and Shultz was ousted.

SEE ALSO: Concealed Carry Perfection? Smith & Wesson’s Shield Plus Takes a Legend to the Next Level – Full Review

Shultz’s decision to compromise with the anti-gun lobby has had far-ranging consequences even to this day. The gun ban media still covers the story as a warning against the NRA’s power, and anti-gun politicians use the incident to argue that gun companies should be forced to change their manufacturing and distribution practices.

Most recently, the government of Mexico, which is suing Smith & Wesson for supposedly arming cartels, referenced Shultz’s statements in its lawsuit.

“Defendants are fully aware that these safety features could, and would, prevent shootings that cause injury and death… Smith & Wesson’s chief executive officer at the time of the 2000 Agreement admitted that these safety measures could save lives,” the lawsuit said.

For his part, Shultz seems to have fully embraced his anti-gun stance. Where before he described himself as a “rabid gun owner,” he told Mass Live that he’s not a “gun guy.”

Asked why people buy and shoot guns, Shultz responded with the kind of out-of-touch explanation gun owners might expect from a man who caved to the anti-gun lobby.

“Immediate satisfaction,” he said. “You can see that you hit the target. It’s not like golf, where you make a great shot but you have to wait until the end of the round and then you add up your score to see how you did. It’s like mowing the lawn. You get that sense of satisfaction because you can look back and see that you did something.”

Fortunately for gun owners, today’s Smith & Wesson is a far cry from Shultz’s organization. Rather than stop or alter their manufacture of AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles, current Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith made the tough decision this month to move much of its manufacturing from the gun control bastion of Massachusetts to Tennessee.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

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  • Manarii Tane, Ph.D. August 20, 2022, 1:32 pm

    Of course Shultz doesn’t regret his actions – he made mega-millions of severance pay – what does he care now?

  • Roger D October 24, 2021, 5:33 pm

    Any Smith I’ve ever owned was preClinton. I don’t see the point of trashing a company where those who committed the crime are long gone and beating up a new company with all new management. Do you blame CZ in the Czech Republic for all the crap Colt did?

  • swimmer October 18, 2021, 8:06 pm

    I remember when this happened. Haven’t bought a Smith since. There are a lot of other fine firearms out there.

  • Gary October 18, 2021, 3:24 pm

    Ed Shulty should have been hung as a trader. before I own 2-3 S&W after I sold them all and will never own another s&w

  • Big Dick Cheney October 18, 2021, 11:21 am

    So, S&W, when are you finally going to purge that abomination known as the “Hillary Hole” from your once-great revolvers? NO ONE with any common sense wants this feature. It has also driven-up the prices of “pre-lock” S&W revolvers up to the stratosphere (which is great I guess, if you are a big-time collector of S&W revolvers). And since history repeats itself, shall I remind you that appeasement never works. Like, when you appease tyrants (Chamberlain and Hitler) or gun control fanatics (S&W and the Clintons). We now have tyrants running our own government here in 2021 and yep, they still want more gun control and the Marxists like AOC and Bernie Sanders want to abolish the Second Amendment and RKBA forever. S&W needs to completely renounce and repudiate this stupid agreement that it made with the Clinton Crime Syndicate. FHRC, FWJC, FJRB, FBHO, and all of their ilk. LET’S GO BRANDON!!!!

  • krinkov545 October 18, 2021, 8:57 am

    Every firearm I purchase that includes a cheapass Chinaman locking, that locking device winds up in the land fill. Let’s Go! Bill Brandon!

  • krinkov545 October 18, 2021, 8:53 am

    You better believe Slick Willie’s impending death is a death that I will celebrate!

  • Anthony Romano October 18, 2021, 7:41 am

    I’ve bought several S&W revolvers with the so called Hillary hole. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I’ve bought an Airweight 442 which I carry daily, I bought a brand new Model 19 and a Model 10. I also bought a 9mm Shield. You guys are making a big deal out of nothing! It’s a frickin lock that you can use or not use! Smith still makes great guns! I’m a big fan!

    • Kane October 18, 2021, 10:33 am

      I have two S&W .22’s that have the lock which I had removed. I would never get a self defense firearm with the lock. I was conflicted when bought the pistols.

  • Fred Ward October 18, 2021, 7:07 am

    Shultz is gone, the company has been sold, and now moved AR manufacturing to TN. What more do you boycotting whiners want? Do you REALLY want a major gun maker to go out of business?

  • Ed Robinson October 15, 2021, 3:54 pm

    The good news personally is that I made a lot of money buying their stock when it dropped to $1 after this debacle. Although I despised the move, I figured S&W was big enough and successful enough to survive the shock. It was a glitch, not a disaster. They’ve come back better along with the rest of the industry.

  • Todd October 15, 2021, 2:08 pm

    “I don’t (openly admit to) regret(ing) it,” Shultz said.

    Fixed it for him.

    Let’s Go Brandon!


  • Severo Velez October 15, 2021, 1:37 pm

    That’s why I don’t buying from you anything since 1991. Dude you don’t have any moral fiber and they should have banished you from the whole industry. You have no shame. .

  • Dexter Winslett October 15, 2021, 11:50 am

    Slick Willie the pedophile. I carried a 629 as a police officer my entire adult life. Since the Clinton hole, I have bought zero Smith and Wesson.

  • John Richard Stanton October 15, 2021, 11:35 am

    Did schultz also do a Monica Lewinsky to bubba too?

  • Chris McLaughlin October 15, 2021, 11:18 am

    Schultz was the wrong man in the wrong position at the wrong time.

  • charlie October 15, 2021, 10:46 am

    Does this mean that we will get rid of the Hillery Hole in the side of the revolvers. If so i will be buying Smith Wesson revolvers again ,if not no new Smiths.

  • LJ October 15, 2021, 9:46 am

    I was one of the thousands of mom & pop FFL dealers Slick Willie and the Brady Bunch stripped of their license and apparently Mr. Shultz was complicit in that. I wonder how much money that has cost his company over the years. Colt was also neutered and threw their loyal customers under the bus just to keep their military contracts. F@%k ’em both…

  • Dr Motown October 15, 2021, 9:18 am

    When you let a fox into the hen house, you know what happens…..maybe Smith should’ve done a better job vetting their CEO candidates

  • Gus October 15, 2021, 9:12 am

    Whenever there’s a demoncrat in charge, American citizens end up being rape victims over and over again, then shamed for being a rape victim, (says Killary while dumping bodies to sweep Bill’s rapes under the rug). Then when someone turns on the light switch again, they all go scurrying back into the sewers until someone else comes along and fixes their clusterf*cks and self inflicted arson done to the Country and it’s People again, a never ending cycle.

  • Kb31416 October 15, 2021, 7:21 am

    Well, it’s been 21 years, and although I have purchased more than a few firearms, NONE were Smith & Wesson, and none have the Hillary hole, regardless of manufacturer. In fact, I have specifically declined to purchase firearms with that design defect several times.
    S&W can move to TN, and they should, but I will probably never be able to cleanse that toxic stain on their brand from my mind.

  • DaveP. October 15, 2021, 7:16 am

    I(t’s amusing that he doesn’t regret it, because that decision of his wrecked the company he was supposed to be leading. His tenure as CEO destroyed almost all of Smith’s stockholder value, and I know people today- after almost a generation- who still refuse to buy any S&W product.

    Heckuva job, CEO Shultz.

  • Thoughtful October 15, 2021, 6:51 am

    Indeed, although I enjoy revolvers, I will NOT buy any S&W with said Hillary Hole.

    • paul D. October 15, 2021, 11:01 am

      OK -What is a ‘hillary hole’??

      • Chris McLaughlin October 15, 2021, 11:22 am

        It’s the hole in the left side of the frame to access the superfluous locking mechanism that disables the gun for “safety” reasons.

      • Michael October 15, 2021, 12:06 pm

        The “Hillary Hole” is a small hole just above the cylinder latch in the left side of the frame. With the provided “key” it allows the hammer to be locked. It has been the cause of some mechanical issues with revolvers having this capability. I have never purchased a S&W revolver that had this feature (and never will).

  • Sneed Hurn October 15, 2021, 6:36 am

    This is why I will never buy another S&W. Never bought one after S&W knuckled under to the Clinton regime.

  • D.J. October 14, 2021, 12:09 pm

    My main concern is , what did Mr. Shultz get in return for
    his submission to that Marxist , sexual deviant , we called
    a president ?
    Being of partial Germanic descent myself , I find it appalling ,
    his lack of standing up for a ” good fight ” .
    It is common knowledge that , if you lock we Germans in a
    closet , we’ll start a fight with ourselves .
    Any other German – Americans wanna back me up on that ?

  • Dietrich Harries October 13, 2021, 4:24 pm

    So why are they still selling guns with the ugly ‘Hillary hole’? For my part I won’t buy anything with it.

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