Firearm stocks surge as consumers fear strict gun control measures

by mcardinal

Chris Lieberman, FISM News


As lawmakers call for stricter gun control measures following last week’s tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas, gun manufacturers saw their stock prices soar in anticipation of a surge in firearm purchases.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. (RGR), a gun manufacturer that was trading at $62.75 at the time of the Uvalde shooting, saw shares hit a high of $68.47 two days later, a 9.1% increase. Over the same period, Smith & Wesson’s (SWBI) shares rose 6.6% from $13.63 Tuesday morning to as high as $15.47 on Thursday. American Outdoor Brands Inc. (AOBI) saw the biggest boost, going from $10.26 to $12 for an increase of 16.9%. RGR, SWBI, and AOBI were trading at $67.81, $15.24, and $11.62 respectively when markets opened Tuesday.

A rise in gun sales typically follows mass shootings like the ones that occurred in Uvalde and Buffalo this month, with citizens seeking to protect themselves from facing a similar tragedy. Talks of new gun control measures also tend to spur purchases, with consumers trying to obtain a firearm before lawmakers are able to put new restrictions in place.

The last two and a half years have seen a major rise in gun ownership overall in the country. 2020 and 2021 both set records for firearm sales, with many citing the rise of fear and uncertainty from the pandemic and George Floyd protests as key causes. It is estimated that Americans purchased more than 2 million handguns and rifles since the beginning of the pandemic, with a University of Chicago survey finding that one in five households have purchased a firearm since March of 2020. That same study said that 5% of American adults became first-time gun buyers, with adults under 45 and people of color seeing the sharpest increases.

These sales boosts come as gun manufacturers face increased scrutiny from Congress. The House Oversight Committee sent letters last week to five gunmakers, including Ruger, Wesson, and Daniel Defense, the manufacturer who produced the gun used in the Uvalde shooting, requesting data on the manufacturing, marketing, and sales of weapons used in mass shootings. “I am deeply concerned that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war,” wrote Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

While fear of stricter gun control legislation may be driving the current gun-buying surge, it seems unlikely that any such laws will materialize soon, at least on the federal level. While Democrats have expressed a desire to enact new restrictions on gun purchases, with only slim control of the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate they lack the votes needed to pass any reforms.

Senate Democrats would need 10 of their Republican colleagues to break ranks with their party’s pro-Second Amendment stance in order to end the filibuster and pass any gun-control legislation, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has been unwilling to vote to change Senate rules in order to overcome this hurdle.

Republicans Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Susan Collins (Maine) have been in discussion with Democrats on measures that could gain bipartisan support, such as red flag laws and expanded background checks, but no agreement has been reached so far.