“In the gun industry, politics and fear matter,” NPR reports. “And they matter a lot. Over the last two years, there was plenty of both to go around amid terror attacks and school shootings. And, of course, there was the presidential race, which Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to win.” And then she didn’t. And then . . .
Gun sales cratered. And continue to crater. Badly. But not all guns sales.
Before we get to the meat of the matter, it’s worth noting (in a raise-your-blood-pressure kinda way) that NPR promotes a predictable analysis of the relationship between the threat of gun control/terrorist attacks and gun sales. It’s paranoid delusion!
Reporter Uri Berliner highlights the thoughts of one James Hardiman, an “equity research analyst who follows the firearms industry for Wedbush Securities.”
The fear that Democrats will make it a lot harder to buy guns has never been very likely, according to Hardiman. And the idea that they will ban guns altogether — he calls that pure fantasy.
“Nonetheless it’s fantasy that has worked in the favor of the gun industry for quite some time,” he says.
So candidate Clinton’s call to reinstate the “assault weapons” ban — to remove “weapons of war from our streets” — was a fantasy? As was her stated desire to reverse Heller and remove manufacturers’ protection against criminal use lawsuits?
Note to self: call broker to blacklist Wedbush. Meanwhile, here’s the deal: AR-15 sales have tanked. Manufacturers stuffed the sales channels with tens of thousands of ARs and the market for the guns pretty much disappeared. Poof! Gone.
The manufacturers are struggling to do something, anything to move additional product. Example: Smith & Wesson (a.k.a., America Outdoor Brands) is offering dealers a “buy four AR-15’s for four bills (each) and get a fifth one for free” deal.
The good news: AR-15 prices are set to play how-low-can-you-go. The bad news: small makers are struggling to stay alive. Parts makers, too. The whole AR-15 supply chain has a bad case of sales constipation.
On the other hand . . .
Sales of concealed carry handguns remain relatively robust. As more states go Constitutional Carry, as concealed carry continues to become normalized, more people are buying personal defense handguns. Even as those who dipped their toes in the water are snapping up bargains (H&K’s are priced 50 percent off in some locations).
At the same time, sales of AR-10’s are doing OK. People who own AR-15’s are adding the larger caliber semi-automatic rifle to their collections for hunting, man-stopping and why-the-hell-not.
Going forward, the “new normal” for the firearms industry will remain the same: slower rifle sales, steady handgun sales. Manufacturers will react to the new status quo by increasing their marketing budgets and lowering costs.
In short: with Trump’s election, the industry’s salad days are over. If the Dems make a comeback in the mid-terms or start looking strong for the next presidential election, it’ll be game on again.