Some of America’s largest gun and ammunition makers have seen their stock prices swell since the massacre this week at a Texas elementary school.
Meanwhile, Ammo Inc. has jumped more than 12 percent in the past week; the Arizona-based maker of ammunition and components also owns GunBroker.com, which it bills as the largest online marketplace for the firearms and shooting sports industries.
Such upswings are not uncommon after a mass shooting or any event that puts gun control in the political spotlight, in the view that there will be a rush on guns, ammunition and accessories in advance of any effort to limit access.
Smith & Wesson, for example, spiked 20 percent after a gunman killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016. The company’s stock price also climbed sharply in the first half of 2021, a possible reaction to Democrats taking control of the presidency and both houses of Congress.
President Biden, in an address Tuesday expressing grief and outrage over the latest mass shooting, criticized lawmakers for not passing stronger gun laws.
“As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” he said.
House Democrats passed two bills in March 2021 meant to expand background checks for gun buyers. The first would have eliminated a provision known as the “Charleston loophole,” named for a 2015 massacre in South Carolina, that allows a gun sale to proceed when a background check can’t be completed after three days. The second would eliminate the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows buyers to forgo a review when buying from private sellers at a gun show or online.
Neither bill has been put to a vote in the Senate, though sweeping gun-control measures have generally failed to gain much traction in that chamber. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in floor remarks on Wednesday, said the Texas shooting was the work of a “deranged young man” without mentioning any specific legislative action.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association representing the firearms industry, issued a lengthy statement after Tuesday’s mass shooting, which it attributed to “irrational acts of a depraved individual.”
It said it would advocate solutions to prevent unauthorized access to firearms by criminals, minors, the “dangerously mentally ill” and others who might not be able to operate a firearm safely. “We will continue to lead and participate in finding and enhancing practical solutions that protect lives and preserve the rights of law-abiding Americans,” the organization wrote in an unsigned statement.
Authorities said the gunman was a troubled 18-year-old who legally purchased two semiautomatic rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition before the attack. He was fatally shot by law enforcement.
Gun manufacturers have come under legal pressure when their products are used in mass-casualty events. In a 2004 settlement, Bushmaster Firearms agreed to pay $2.5 million to the families of six people slain in the D.C. sniper attacks two years earlier.
In February, Remington Arms, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle, reached a $73 million settlement with the families of nine of the victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, where a gunman killed more than two dozen people, 20 of them young children.
Though the settlement did not contain any admission of liability, it nonetheless represented a landmark victory for gun-control activists. The settlement could provide a framework for future cases against gun manufacturers, which have enjoyed broad legal protections under a federal shield law.
The number of firearms manufactured annually in the United States peaked in 2016 at just shy of 11.5 million before trailing off to about 7 million by 2019, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.