Conventional wisdom says with a gun-friendly President in office, gun enthusiasts will breathe easier and enjoy their hobby more. This should lead to increased gun sales in a, literally, trigger-happy environment. Others say the opposite is true. The perceived threat of President Obama sent gun sales soaring, and now the industry will have to figure out how to deal with dropping sales. So, who’s right?
At first blush, it seems like the latter theory is holding true. In one of the worst-kept secrets in consumer America, President Barack Obama turned out to be one of the nation’s best gun salesmen. Every time he went on the air and said anything about “violence” or “common sense” or the like, grassroots groups and national gun advocacy groups pumped up their members and right-leaning websites screamed about imminent gun restrictions. This led millions to buy more guns and ammunition, even as some retailers like Walmart ran completely out of certain kinds of ammo.
But all that’s over now. With President Trump in office vowing to protect and defend inherent Second Amendment rights, gun sales have dropped, and the sale of accessories and ammunition has dropped as well. People are not stocking up, and they’re not even grabbing accessories like they did before.
This latter issue is particularly troubling for gun manufacturers. In most industries, if people stop buying bigger ticket items, brands can bank on them continuing to purchase related items. This isn’t holding true for guns. And that has gun makers worried. In a recent interview with CNN, Brian Skinner, CEO of Kalashnikov USA, said:
“I think the entire gun industry was planning on, and I think the entire country was thinking, that Hillary was going to win… And I know there was huge demand, all the manufacturers had huge orders, and then the day after the election, distributors were canceling orders left and right just because they realized Trump’s coming in now…”
Canceled orders? Yep, when they didn’t feel pressured to buy now, they realized they didn’t really want to buy at all. This has led to major drop-offs not just in sales but also in stock price. Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson (American Outdoor) both saw their stock fall 20 percent since January 20.
Turns out, gun retailers do better when they have a villain for consumers to worry about. Now that there’s a perceived ally in the White House, they need to find a different angle … or risk further losses.