Ruger cutting back: is it a PR Crisis problem?

As the United States enters yet another round of the great gun debates, at least one gun manufacturer is struggling to make ends meet. Sturm Ruger recently announced plans to continue cutting its workforce after posting a 21 percent sales decline over 2017.

Just how many jobs has the gun maker cut? Estimates top 700 jobs, which is equivalent to about 25 percent of its staff. Ruger CEO Chris Killoy said the cuts were difficult but necessary: “When we reduced production in 2017, we had to make some difficult decisions… 2017 was a challenging year for the firearm industry, but we’re better positioned to compete in 2018…”

Trump Blamed For Fall of Gun Sales

Popularly, the blame for the falling gun sales is being “blamed” on the election of President Donald Trump. Because the current president is perceived by many to be more supportive of gun rights than his predecessor, fewer people feel compelled to go out and buy guns. That may change.

With the more recent school shooting, there’s been increased talk about gun control, and that’s a topic that tends to have a motivating influence on gun sales. On the other side of that question is a growing Millennial consumer base for whom owning guns is considered a less optimal decision.

This generation grew up with the memory of Columbine and all the subsequent school shootings, so they tend to be less supportive of gun ownership, especially of the big-ticket guns that dealers sold a lot of during the Obama administration.

Killoy Stays Quiet

When asked, Killoy didn’t discuss gun control, but he was quick to express sympathy for the victims of the most recent school shooting: “Like all Americans, we struggle with the shock and sadness of these terrible events…”

He didn’t mention the target these events put on the backs of gun manufacturers. Some activists openly blame gun makers for these horrific events. And, while gun buyers are quick to defend manufacturers and dealers, the ongoing conversation is loud, angry, and caustic. Gun makers, like Killoy, believe they’re making tools for self-defense and sport. Anti-gun activists say they’re profiting off murder weapons… Often, in these debates, the middle ground is drowned out by rage. No brand wants to be attached to that kind of anger, derision, and horror.

And Ruger is not alone in feeling the heat. Remington has put shareholders on notice that the company may soon have to file for bankruptcy protection. Killoy said his company may be interested in obtaining its struggling competitor. But first, it has to right its own ship

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of New York’s 5W Public Relations


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