U.S. Gun Sales Continue to Surge
By Burt Carey
President Barack Obama stepped up to a podium at the White House Tuesday to announce executive actions that would restrict some gun sales in the United States, just one day after the FBI reported a record number of background checks were conducted in 2015.
Firearms industry analysts say background checks on prospective gun buyers have increased an average of 7 percent annually since Obama was first sworn into office in January 2009. The FBI reported Monday that it conducted more than 23 million background checks in 2015, the most ever in a calendar year since the National Criminal Background Check System (NICS) went into effect in 1998.
While Obama says his actions announced Tuesday are intended to curb gun violence, the gun industry benefited from yet another spike in sales – a phenomenon that’s happened multiple times after politicians have made overtures toward more gun control following mass shootings.
The stock price for Sturm, Ruger & Company as well as Smith & Wesson surged Tuesday. Ruger’s shares increased 6.8 percent Tuesday, and Smith & Wesson’s stock shot up 12 percent to its highest price in nearly 10 years. For the year, S&W stock was up 133 percent in 2015; Ruger’s stock increased 70 percent.
Smith & Wesson announced Monday that it is expecting to finish higher than anticipated in the third quarter and that its annual net sales and per-share profit will also be up. For the three months ending Jan. 31, the company estimates sales will total $175 million to $180 million, up from its earlier guidance of $150 million to $155 million.
Erich Pratt of the Gun Owners of America said recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., along with Obama’s use executive action to bypass Congress and impose gun control measures have helped boost gun sales. “Any time you have the president saying ‘more restrictions are coming,’ people run to gun stores,” Pratt said. “We’ve also seen more people wanting to carry firearms.”
The total number of background checks in 2015 was 23,141,970, according to the FBI, eclipsing the previous record of about 21.1 million in 2013. The number of background checks does not necessary correlate to actual gun sales. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that Americans bought about 14.24 million firearms in 2015. That accounts for about 62 percent of background checks. The remainder, according to the NSSF, is connected to background checks made for people applying for concealed weapons permits.
Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail blasted Obama’s executive action Tuesday and vowed to fight it in the courts or repeal the moves altogether.
Image: Second Amendment