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?

By Jonathan Berr Dec 17, 2012 7:10PM
Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Caption: A customer shops for a pistol at Freddie Bear Sports sporting goods store. December, 2012Shares of two of the largest gun makers, Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm Ruger (RGR), continued falling Monday amid new interest in gun control laws following last week's horrifying shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

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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83Comments
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The NRA facebook page is up and running and it appears the author of this page is trying to make the NRA appear as though it is ducking.   Of course the liberal media wants to make anyone who favors guns as bad people.  Every time anything bad happens involving guns, they want to make the whole gun-owning community take responsibility.
Dec 18, 2012 3:53PM
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This would then be a very GOOD time to invest in these stocks.  As more and more gun grabbers come out of the woodwork and rear their heads, guns purchases are going to see a significant increase.

 

This is how the market works.  Get in on it.

Dec 18, 2012 3:42PM
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Those stocks will be back up.Rednecks love guns and hillbilly porn.
Dec 18, 2012 2:35PM
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Dear Tinfoil hat crowd ....thank you for your comments you ignorant morons! Have a sh*tty day.  :)
Dec 18, 2012 12:12PM
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I oppose any effort to make it difficult or impossible for me to protect myself and my family from a criminal determined to cause harm.  The last sound that an intruder in your home wants to hear is the sound of a round being chambered in your shotgun.   Don't have to aim...just point and shoot.  Remember, the cops only arrive after there is an "incident" not before.  That is just too late to be useful.
Dec 18, 2012 11:53AM
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Not sure about Gun Company stocks going down, they have done fairly well over the last few years.

 

From what has been on Local newcasts and some National reports, you would never know for sure.

Gun shop owners are reporting the busiest sale days they have had in months or even a year or two..

Usually has a tendancy to happen, in situations, like this OR when Politicians come out blabbering to further their careers and grab some TV time or limelight for free..They all want to become our heroes. ??

Dec 18, 2012 11:19AM
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We have been having the discussion around here...Once again..

It's not so much about guns as it is about the people.

As... A SHARP pointed out:

 

We have seen State Hospitals for the Mentally ill closed up or shutdown for years...

And the people dispersed sometimes in the Communities, as maybe safe Citizens maybe not.??

Most are on a dailly treatment of drugs, from local Doctors or Gov sponsored treatment centers..

But still allowed to roam freely, amongst a population, that know little about their condition or possibily their past?...The Majority of them are not extremely dangerous...UNTIL, maybe they do something like what happened in the past week...Some just slip through the cracks....

A generation or two ago they were kept out of mainstream Society; Similiar to a prison, few would have priviledges and be able to leave the areas on weekends or Holidays and have visitors..

Many were put away for life, living only in a dorm or areas, with others like themselves and little connection to the outside world.

Some may have considered it cruel and unusual, but then again those same people didn't want to be bothered or involved in the process either...At least MOST of them.

Dec 18, 2012 11:03AM
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Wow- biased AND full of half truths.  Truly not worthy of being called news.
Dec 18, 2012 10:54AM
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If you can afford these guns then you can also afford a good gun safe, lock them up! If your child is having mental issues dont let them in the safe, how about sell a couple to afford help for the little bastard. This is a tragic happening I have a child this age and feel for these people. It starts at home the respect that a gun in the house should have is lost, I never would touch my fathers guns, if I did my butt would be kicked and I would of deserved it. spare the rod spoil the child
Dec 18, 2012 10:50AM
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I think we should also ban knives because a crazy man in China just stabbed 22 kids in a school located in China. Also we should ban gas, fertilizer and box trucks. Tim Mcveigh killed 168 people including 19 babies using those ingredients. While we are at it we should ban box cutter knives they were used to capture and kill around 3000 people on 9-11. Crazy people will kill if that is their wish. No matter what they use as a tool. We have too keep the right to bare arms and protect ourselves. It should be completely obvious that our local government can not protect us.
Dec 18, 2012 10:49AM
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Gosh I dunno, but I know plenty of Liberals that have guns and hunt or just shoot...

Along with Conservatives too...

 

A handful or a few thousand on either side are the squeaky wheels.

And some are just a wookety wheel on a shopping cart.

 

"For every Action, there is almost always an opposite equal Reaction."

Sometimes more severe...?? And kneejerk, especially when humans are involved.

Dec 18, 2012 9:57AM
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This article is a crock. Gun stocks were declining well before the shootings. Just another example of liberal spin at it's finest.
Dec 18, 2012 9:57AM
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Gun control is not the answer to end these tragedies. The shooter was mentally retarded- but the mother had said on her facebook page that she had NO HELP OR SERVICES AVAILABLE to deal with her sons behavior. She was desperate for help but no one would listen, not even her own community. Maybe it's the reason she withdrew into her own paranoid world of 'end of days' mindset, which was not a healthy environment for a child with mental illness.

 

The federal government abolished institutionalized treatment and passed laws to have COMMUNITY BASED TREATMENT facilities. The problem is that there was, and still are no provisions for funding these so called community based facilities- ergo- NO facilities. This population of the developmentally disabled need the most help, but get the least. And when tragedy strikes, we all ask why ?

 

The DD population are very impressionable and will take cues from us on how to act and interact with society but how can they when we ignore their basic needs ? I do hold the mother  responsible- and she paid with her life. But until we as a nation decide to deal with these issues that DD's face, we'll continue to have these tragedies- be it guns, fertilizer & fuel oil, knives or any other weapon of convenience. There are more ways to 'profit' from having programs in place than just how much money it cost or how profitable it needs to be.

Dec 18, 2012 9:52AM
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The shooting in Newtown, Ct breaks my heart as a parent but I don't think gun control is the answer. I think that we need is better nut control. Why take it out on the responsible gun owner.
Dec 18, 2012 9:30AM
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Really? Gun stocks are falling? Is that why the gun shop I frequent was so packed on Saturday you couldn't walk an inch without bumping in to someone? There were so many people filling out background check forms at the counters you couldn't hardly see the display cases... they were 2 and 3 deep at times... so... I'm gonna have to chalk this particular article up to propaganda... if anything... gun sales more than likely soared as threats for more gun control took root in the media... but that's ok, media, keep fueling the fires... that just means more gun owners will be buying guns in the coming months.
Dec 18, 2012 9:00AM
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With impending taxation by the IRS for gun owners - Is there any surprise that the reported number of people owning guns has gone down?
Dec 18, 2012 8:08AM
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I see Smith and Wesson and Storm Ruger got together to make a lot of posts here.  Its always crazies with guns V good guys with guns- the crazies are ahead and always will be.  How about we make it crazies with no guns V good guys with no guns- I think the good guys will win by far.
The gun lobby has finally shot itself in the foot- their rigid stance  against reasonable gun control will be the  thing that breaks them.  Now a far more restrictive gun control law will pass than what anyone could have imagined before.  This one with no politically lobbied loopholes.  Even now, Homeland security is probably checking and filing the ISP's of people who support guns.  Sorry guys- you brought it on yourselves.
Dec 18, 2012 7:10AM
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This is going to start the next civil war people. Get prepared.
Dec 18, 2012 7:01AM
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How can anyone justify the need to own an semi-automatic assault weapon? How many times have you heard about someone's home being invaded by armed gangs? And if you did how did that work out? Did the homeowner with his/her assault weapon kill the armed gang? Or was he/her shot themselves? I guess we should be able to own a rocket propelled grenade launcher as well. I mean some gang might attack by air. And for people who state that "they could have been killed with a knife or baseball bat" it is always with a gun. Of course we can't do any better than this. We put our children in a car seat that only 5 people in the galaxy can install and make sure they don't have any lead in their toys but stop them from being slaughtered by an evil person with an assault weapon. Nah, we can't stop that. Some poor hunter might need to shoot an entire herd of deer and how can he do that with out his AK-47.

Dec 18, 2012 1:03AM
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What is the use of banning guns when the country is already saturated with it.  Is the government going to come a knocking on every legal, law abiding, registered gun owner and take all their firearms while all the criminal elements retain theirs?   Like always, American people always miss the point.  It is not guns that is the problem, it is the degradation of American society.   No one is responsible for their own actions, others are to blame.  A guy gets drunk, hits someone and the bar gets sued.   Where I live if someone comes into your home, you defend your family and if the intruder gets hurt or dies he or his family can potentially sue you.  A child gets hurt on a toy that was meant for older children, why is the toy manufacturer liable, it should be the stupid parent who is not watching their kid.  And don't get me started on those reality shows that America loves that praises stupidity.  It is time for America to WAKE UP!
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