US gunmakers’ stock price increases the day after 21 were killed in a mass shooting

Gun manufactuerer stock prices typically increase after mass shootings due to fears of impending regulation

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 25 May 2022 17:28
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Two US gunmakers saw their stock prices increase the morning after a mass shooting left 21 people — mostly children — dead in Texas.

Sturm, Ruger & Company and Smith & Wesson, which are the country's largest gunmakers by value, both saw increases on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself inside a school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 19 children and two adults.

Smith & Wesson saw its stock price rise 1.2 per cent Wednesday, while Sturm, Ruger & Company's price increased by 0.9 per cent.

The increase in stock price is callous, but not unusual. Because mass shootings prompt criticism of gun manufactuerers and US laws, gun enthusiasts and gun rights advocates tend to go on buying sprees in the days after an incident. Their panic buying is driven in part by their fears that the US government will ban weapons or certain accessories or ammunition types in response to the mass shooting.

That fear is generally compounded anytime Democrats control the government, though there hasn’t been a serious push to ban firearms since the 1994 federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004. Some firearm accessories — like bump stocks — have faced federal bans after major mass shooting incidents. Former President Donald Trump pushed for the devices to be banned after 12 were found in Stephen Paddock’s hotel room the night of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.

Joe Biden spoke Tuesday and demanded to know when the country will push back on the powerful US gun lobby.

“As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” he said Tuesday during an address.

The 18-year-old mass shooter in Texas purchased his two guns legally, according to police. In Texas it is legal for an 18-year-old to buy longarms, whether that be a hunting rifle or an AR-15.

He also bought 375 rounds of ammunition.

Gun control advocates have long accused gunmakers of profiting by flooding the country in deadly weapons, but the manufacturers have been largely successful in skirting responsibility for any mass shooting events.

A notable exception to that trend saw gunmaker Remington forced to pay $73m to the families of the Sandy Hook victims. Remington manufactured the AR-15 used by the gunman in that shooting.

Rather than trying to push for gunmakers to be held accountable for individual deaths, advocates raising legal challenges against manufacturers are challenging the company’s marketing. That strategy was effective at erasing cigarette and tobacco advertisements from almost all media.

Proponents claim the gunmakers intentionally target young men and focus on their insecurities — namely, their fears about their own masculinity — to sell weapons to the exact demographic most responsible for mass shootings. A group of advocates has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the gunmakers’ marketing strategies.

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