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LEDGER TRANSCRIPT.COM August 5, 2020 – Fear is good for business.
That’s the takeaway in the latest earnings report for Newport gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co., which last week reported that gun sales and profits surged, especially during the second quarter, as the result of people’s safety concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and — in the company’s words — “civil unrest in many cities throughout the United States.”
It has long been a truism in the firearms industry that sales increase when gun owners are worried that lawmakers may restrict access to firearms.
During the Obama administration, for example, periodic calls for gun-control legislation in the wake of mass school shootings helped to fuel gun sales. But once President Donald Trump came into office in 2017, gun sales slowed — so much so that Ruger let go of 580 employees over the first three years of Trump’s presidency by the time it ended 2019 with a more than 17% slump in sales. The firearms industry even dubbed it the “Trump Slump,” despite enjoying the unabashed support of a solidly pro-gun rights president in the White House.
Now, as COVID-19 plunged the U.S. economy — and much of the world — into its severest contraction in modern recorded history and at times violent protests in American cities broke out in response to racial injustice, Ruger saw its second-quarter sales surge $34 million, or 36%, to $129.4 million, the company reported on Wednesday.
“The incredible surge in demand outstripped our production capability during the second quarter,” Christopher Killoy, Ruger’s chief executive, said in a conference call with financial analysts on Thursday.
Killoy, who has worked in the firearms industry for 30 years and like other Ruger executives typically gives a dry presentation, alternately described the surge as “staggering,” “incredible” and “probably the strongest level of demand that I’ve seen.”
Killoy was direct in explaining what Ruger sees as the reason behind the exceptional gun sales: “This increased demand appears to be driven, in part, by concerns about personal protection and home defense stemming from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic; protests, demonstrations and civil unrest in many cities throughout the United States; and the call, by some, for the reduction in funding and authority of various law enforcement organizations.”
Indeed, gun sales have been so strong that Ruger couldn’t make guns fast enough, according to Killoy. “The incredible surge in demand outstripped our production capability during the second quarter,” Killoy said, noting that inventory at Ruger’s warehouses and among its distributors decreased by 127,000 units. [full article]