For arms dealers, having a friend in the White House has, well, backfired.
According to a Wall Street Journal report Thursday, gun manufacturers have reported plummeting revenues from assault-style weapons since the president was elected in November 2016, a drop so significant they’ve started calling it the “Trump slump.”
Without fear as a driving factor for gun purchasers, Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoor Brands Corp., reported revenue from long gun sales fell 50 percent during the previous fiscal year — down to $90 million.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. reported a 13.5 percent drop in firearms sales for the first six months of this year compared to last year, according to the Journal’s report.
It’s an ironic problem, considering President Trump’s alliance with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and staunch, absolutist defense of Second Amendment rights, but as some experts told the Journal, gun sales are often motivated by fear of gun control legislation that may prevent some gun purchases.
“Sales have normalized because you don’t have the fear-based market,” Mark Eliason, vice president of sales and marketing at Windham Weaponry, a Maine gun maker, told the Journal.
Mark Westrom, former owner and CEO of AR-rifle maker Armalite, echoed Eliason in the article, saying that the structure of the gun market has been “massively expanded by various panics.”
“This is an odd market that is stimulated by Democratic administrations,” he added.
Despite conventional wisdom that gun sales always rise after mass shootings, that hasn’t happened during the Trump administration, either.
According to CNN, after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, there were 3 million additional guns sold from December 2012 to April 2013. Similarly, after the San Bernardino shooting in 2015, there were 1.7 million additional guns sold from December 2015 to February 2016.
But in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting last October, the worst in modern American history, and the Sutherland Springs church shooting in November, analysts at CNN found no gun sales spike. Bump stocks, by contrast, flew off the shelves after reports the Las Vegas shooter had used the device to increase his rate of fire, and talk of banning them began making the rounds on Capitol Hill.
“[…] Gun enthusiasts appear to be getting out their wallets and spending their hard-earned cash on the devices before any action is taken,” Newsweek reported at the time.
In an effort to capture the fear-based market, the NRA over the past year has been pumping out fear-mongering videos, including one around the time of the Academy Awards in which the group co-opted the #TimesUp movement.
“We’ve had enough of the lies, the sanctimony, the arrogance, the hatred, the pettiness, the fake news. We are done with your agenda to undermine voters’ will and individual liberty in America,” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said in the video.
To every lying member of the media, to every Hollywood phony, to the role model athletes who use their free speech to alter and undermine what our flag represents, to the politicians who would rather watch America burn than lose one once of their own personal power, to the late night hosts who think their opinions are the only opinions that matter, to the Joy-Ann Reids, the Morning Joes, the Mikas, to those who stain honest reporting with partisanship, to those who bring bias and propaganda to CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, your time is running out.
In another video last June, Loesch stopped just short of calling for violence against Hollywood, educators, the media, and supporters of President Obama, claiming they posed a serious threat to freedom and would “bully and terrorize the law abiding […]” until they got what they wanted.
“The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth,” she said.
Additionally, ahead of the March for our Lives earlier this year, the lobby group spent much of its time on its namesake television channel arguing the march was a front for socialist efforts to destroy the constitution secretly organized by violent anti-American groups.