U.S. gun sales dropped by eight percent year-over-year in January 2018, as per FBI data. The estimated gun sales were more than 955,000, which was the lowest record for January since 2012. After observing booming gun sales during Barack Obama’s presidency, the U.S. firearms industry in 2018 has been facing a slowdown.
The recent Florida shooting tragedy was followed by a rise in the share prices of major firearms companies, but this has been common after almost every mass shooting in America.
In January, dealers transferred 501,638 handguns and 337,587 long guns, a year-over-year fall of 60,000 and 30,000, respectively. U.S. firearms companies like American Outdoor Brands Corp (NASDAQ:AOBC), Sturm, Ruger & Company Inc (NYSE:RGR), Vista Outdoor Inc (NYSE:VSTO) have reported falls in their sales in the past few months.
Remington Arms Company, LLC, a company known for supplying arms to soldiers in the Civil War, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month as a part of a restructuring measure.
Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York at Cortland who has written five books on guns, said some call the situation the “Trump slump.” He added, “Gun purchases recently have been made not just because someone wants a new product but to make a statement; not just because of fears that there might be tighter regulation but also to make a statement against Obama.”
Effect of Gun Control on the U.S. Firearms Industry
Gun control policies affect firearm sales, but what is gun control? It’s a policy or set of restrictions that control the manufacturing and sale of firearms, ammunition, and firearm accessories. The fewer the restrictions, the easier is to make sales.
Gun control policies can be divided into some broad categories, including regulations on the types of guns that can be purchased, who can buy the guns, where they can be carried, and where they can be purchased. Firearms ownership restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods make the process to obtain firearms more difficult. As a result, the number of people authorized to purchase them is reduced.
Support for stricter gun control laws is at its peak after the recent Florida school shooting. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 66% of people are in favor of much more stricter gun laws and only 31% oppose it. Of those polled, 97% were in favor of universal background checks, 83% were in favor of a mandatory waiting period for firearm purchases, and 67% were in favor of an assault weapon ban.
Debate About Repealing Second Amendment
The second amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of people to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense. It does not deal with who sells the firearms.
In the wake of the most recent school shooting, the debate about possibly repealing the second amendment has again crescendoed. To some Americans, it’s understandable that a person owns a handgun for self-defense or a rifle for hunting, but it seems ridiculous that people are allowed to buy as many as 33 guns in a year.
The United States has more guns in people’s hands than any other nation.
Impact of Mass Shootings in America on Firearms Industry
The recent Florida school shooting resulted in 17 deaths and more than dozen injuries. After this incident, a boost was observed in gun manufacturers’ stock prices. The major firearms companies like Sturm, Ruger & Company, Vista Outdoor, American Outdoor Brands saw an increase in their stock prices. Ammunition company Olin Corporation (NYSE:OLN) also saw its stock price rise.
Do these kinds of mass shootings in America tend to result in a jump in gun sales? Tom Engle, owner of the store Hunter’s Warehouse, said, “Shootings don’t push up gun sales. It’s when the government starts talking about banning particular guns and up go gun sales. When people lose their right to buy a particular gun or a particular type of gun, they go after them, and they want them then.”
When President Donald Trump won the election, he stated that he would oppose attempts at toughening gun control. At that time, firearms company stock prices fell. The rise in the stock prices reported last Wednesday were likely to be temporary as people feared again that the shooting would affect gun laws.
“Gun sales down in January,” Guns.com, February 6, 2018.
“The Trump slump’: Remington files for bankruptcy as gun sales tumble,” The Guardian, February 13, 2018.
“How does gun control policy affect the stock price of firearm companies?,” Investopedia, last accessed February 21, 2018.
“More Americans Than Ever Support Stricter Gun Laws: Poll,” TIME, February 20, 2018.
“Explainer: what is the 2nd Amendment and how does it impact US gun control?,” The Conversation, June 15, 2016.
“Does the Second Amendment Protect Firearms Commerce?,” Harvard Law Review, April 11, 2014.
“To Repeat: Repeal the Second Amendment,” The New York Times, February 16, 2018.
“Mass shootings don’t boost gun sales anymore. Here’s why,” CNN Money, February 15, 2018.
“Do Gunmakers Make Money Off Mass Shootings?,” Newsweek, February 15, 2018.