Gun stocks decline after Connecticut tragedy
Lawmakers are having new discussions about gun control. Can the US strike a balance between the rights of gun owners and the wishes of people favoring more restrictions?
President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, among others, are showing support for new gun restrictions. But whether those policies will ever see the light of day is another question. The National Rifle Association remains a formidable political force, as does the lesser-known National Shooting Sports Federation, which happens to be based in Newtown, Conn.
Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives aren't keen on the idea of enacting new gun control legislation. But the tragic circumstances of the shootings Friday at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which a 20-year-old gunman opened fire and killed 20 children and six educators, may change the debate about gun violence.
As Wedbush analyst Rommel Dionisio said in an interview with Bloomberg News, this rampage was unique because of "the number of children (involved), and the fact that it was very young children." Shares of Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger have soared this year because many gun owners feared that President Obama would crack down on gun ownership in his second term. Those fears may come to pass.
But what gets lost among the discussion about guns about is a sense of economic reality. For one thing, the rates of gun ownership have been on a decline for decades. Data cited by Think Progress shows that in 1977, 54% of adults lived in a household with a gun. By 2010, that figure had shrunk to 32%. Smaller gun makers have been struggling financially for years. Freedom Group, a company backed by Cerberus Capital Management that owns such firearms brands as Remington and Bushmaster, shelved plans for an initial public offering last year. Freedom Group, though, is optimistic about its prospects.
"We believe the continued economic uncertainty and the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is likely to continue to spur both firearms and ammunition sales," the company said in a recent SEC filing. "We believe the industry is also experiencing trends toward increased recreational and shooting sports and home defense."
The tough challenge for policy makers is figuring out which guns need to be controlled. Take assault weapons. To non-gun owners, the name conjures up images of fully-automatic machine guns spraying a small area with a huge number of bullets like the M-4, the rifle favored by the U.S. military. According to the Shooting Sports Federation, the differences between assault weapons and otherwise legal firearms are cosmetic, such as the type of stock used on the weapon. Critics have long argued that these guns can easily be converted to automatic ones and pack more firepower than a user would need for hunting or target practice.
The U.S. has the dubious distinction of having more guns than people and by far the highest rate of gun ownership in the world. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy has said that his state has one of the toughest gun control laws in the country. Though some argue that the tragedy could have been averted if some of the teachers were armed, that seems like wishful thinking. People need to be leery of easy answers to complicated questions.
For now, the gun industry is keeping a low profile. The NRA has reportedly taken down its Facebook page and officials I contacted didn't return phone calls and emails seeking comment.
Let's hope that people will point to tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School as a watershed moment where the U.S. was able to strike a balance between the rights of law-abiding gun owners with those of most Americans who choose not to exercise their right to bear arms. I hope my wish isn't too far fetched.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
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Mr Berr -
You said it yourself, be careful of the simple answer. Passing a law to restrict or forbid gun ownership is a simple answer. it does not address the underlying problem of the mental health of the individual doing the killing. If he couldn't get a gun, how about a car or a knife or a sword or any other weapon that can create the kind of carnage that was inflicted. What if he decided to use Fertilizer like Timothy McVey? How many would have died then?
Please do not get me wrong, my heart goes out to all the families that lost a loved one way too early. It is a tragedy of a great magnitude. Should we do something to try and prevent it? The answer is yes. But, let's make sure it is a real solution and not a knee jerk reaction that reduces or removes the rights of others and offers no real solution. The solution must be framed to protect all of our rights.
What do you think the carnage would have been if these mental morons would have used explosives or poison gas or heaven forbid worked for the DOJ and had access to real weapons.
It just amazes me that no one wants to accept the fact that these lives could have all been saved If even one teacher had a gun and the balls to use it .
After planes flew in to the twin towers and killed thousands we beefed up security and armed the pilots. It seems to have worked.
There are currently more guns than people in the USA.
How many more guns do we really need?
Here come the left wing nuts at a gallop ! These Uninformed morons continue to blame a "Gun" as the cause of the Violence. Go into any Gun Shop and ask for an Assault Weapon and see what the shop keeper will give you ? This was a name that was given by the LIBERAL IDIOTS to anything that could shoot something and kill you! Anyone remember Oklahoma City ? Nobody asked that Fertilizer and Diesel Fuel be banned when Timothy McVey Blew up that Building with how many small kids in the day care center ? How about the Guy who Butchered all of those kids at a School in Stockton Cal. with a knife ? Any Legislation by that Liberal Bitch Diane Finestein to remove Knives from the shelves?
Definition of an Assault Weapon is anything that can be used to assault you with ! Golf Clubs, Baseball Bats, Machettes ( Used with great success in Uganda and Rawanda) Over a Million People were hacked to death there. Anyone Banning Machettes ? You Stupid Bastards need to wake up and start executing these pieces of human crap by the Bus Loads ! Mental Health Proffesionals , Institutes of Higher Learning and the Governmant have FAILED us Miserably and want to put the blame on Law Abiding Citizens. This is what happens when the Liberal Hippies take over !
This sad and tragic event was hi jacked by the media and politicians within just a few hours of happening. A truly empathetic and grief sharing person would retreat into personal silence in honor of the victims and loved ones. Allow them to peacefully and privately grieve and begin to heal and move on in whatever way best soothes their deep loss. Instead the media was all over the initial event with all inds of mis information and grandstanding by trying to interview children, blame the parents for letting them speak, and politicians were atop their crow heaps advocating all kinds of studies and new legislation for controls that ABSOLUTELY no evedence exists that any meaningful prevention or reduction of these incidents result.
I am convinced this disturbed person, in the absence of firearms, would have as easily hacked his mother to death that morning with a knife,axe, or useda baseball bat, then procedded to that school with a bomb he learned to make on the internet, or some poison cocktail for the cafeteria or air vents.
However you view this, I believe it is an act of terror no different than the FT Hood shooter but more tragic because it involved innocent children. Nuts are nuts, and with or without a gun they are a menance to innocents. In a free society this will persist.
Watch for Gulag style government facilities soon to get those suspected of being unstable off the streets. Operative word is SUSPECTED.
As a veteran, .223 ammunition is for assault weapons! Not varmit hunting (that is just an excuse that the NRA and its sheep want to spread)! If you want an assault weapon, join the freaking Army or Marines. There are approximately 32 people murdered by guns per day in this country. It would be interesting to see the number of people who "saved" by gun ownership. There will be, of course, some, but not 32 a day. And yes, I am a Democrat, but have not "sipped" a latte in my life.
It is comical to watch the simple minded scramble for excuses to perpetuate a climate in which everyone is at unreasonable risk, based upon some misguided notion of gun worship. They argue that the disturbed and the violent will "find some way" to do violence, THEREFORE we should do nothing to reduce accessibility of highly lethal automatic weapons. That is, to be polite, idiotic.
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