Gun manufacturer Colt has been around for centuries, the iconic Connecticut-based maker of the AR-15 rifle says it will suspend, at least for now, civilian sales of its rifles because Americans have too many of the damn things, and sales are off.
Gun-maker Colt is suspending its production of rifles for the civilian market including the popular AR-15, the company said Thursday in a shift it attributed to changes in consumer demand and a market already saturated with similar weapons.
The company said it will focus instead on fulfilling contracts with military and police customers for rifles.
“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” Colt’s chief executive officer, Dennis Veilleux, said in a written statement. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”
Veilleux said the company, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2016, remains committed to the Second Amendment. He said the company is expanding its lines of pistols and revolvers.
Despite a national debate on gun control, Colt’s decision seems driven by business considerations rather than politics, said Adam Winkler, a gun policy expert at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.
FBI statistics show more than 2.3 million people applied for background checks to purchase guns in August, up from just over 1.8 million in July. Those applications, the best available statistic from tracking gun sales, has have been rising steadily, with a slight decline after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, something call the “Trump slump.”
Gun sales usually go up when guy buyers feel their access to such weapons are being threatened, Winkler said.
“Given these sales and the history of Colt being a completely disorganized, dysfunctional company that goes into bankruptcy and can’t keep anything going properly, my assumption is that this is a business decision that is being driven by their own business problems,” he said.
Still, Winkler said the company’s decision risks alienating and angering its remaining customer base.
“We’ve seen in the past that when gun manufacturers are viewed to have given in to gun-safety advocates, gun owners will boycott them and really hurt their business,” he said. “If they think a company like Colt is disrespecting their identity or giving in to the other side, Colt’s likely going to see serious damage to its other firearms brands too.”
Colt is getting out of the rifle business because there's too much competition, and also hey, these things are expensive when the economy is getting worse. Whether anyone will believe the problem is the "law-abiding firearms owner" who needs that seventh AR-15 in pink for their 12-year-old daughter, well, that's a different story.
On the other hand, imagine being one of the oldest, most legendary gunsmiths in America in the 2010's when tens of millions of firearms were bought because of a scary black man as president and being so bad at it that you still go bankrupt once and possibly now twice.