According to a Wall Street Journal report, sales of AR-15’s — often described as “assault weapons” — have declined at gun shows since President Barack Obama left office.
With some in the industry calling it the “Trump slump,” gun sellers are seeing the downside to having a pro-gun president in Donald Trump which has lessened the anxiety of gun owners who felt they had to snatch up as many weapons as possible under the previous president.
According to industry figures, sales of AR-15-style rifles manufactured by Smith & Wesson parent company American Outdoor Brands Corp. has fallen 50 percent, down to $90 million for the year ending April 30, compared with the previous fiscal year.
Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co. is reporting a 13.5 percent drop in overall net sales for the first six months of the year but does not break down the loss by gun category.
According to Mark Eliason, vice president of sales and marketing at Maine gunmaker Windham Weaponry, “Sales have normalized because you don’t have the fear-based market.”
“The shine is coming off the nickel,” added former Taurus Holdings, Inc. CEO Mark Kresser, saying to not expect an uptick in sales until there is a major flip in which party controls the White House or Congress.
Adding credence to reports of plummeting sales is an analysis of data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation by the National Shooting Sports Foundation that showed background checks fell 11 percent in 2017 from a record in 2016, after excluding checks for concealed weapons.
According to the report, sales of the military-style weapon exploded in 2004 after ban signed by former President Bill Clinton expired.
Bill Silver, a former sales executive at Kalashnikov USA called the desire for the guns, “a ‘wannabe’ factor,” adding “People want to be a special-forces guy.”
Fears arose of a renewed ban or additional restrictions during the presidency of Barack Obama as he pressed Congress to do something about the increase in mass shootings — many of which involved an AR-15-styled weapons.
“Obama was the best AR-15 salesman there was,” Chris Waltz, a 54-year-old gun dealer and Army veteran from Georgia admitted to the Journal.
Mark Westrom, former owner, and CEO of AR-rifle maker Armalite confessed that sales tend to increase when Democrats hold the reins of power, stating, “This is an odd market that is stimulated by Democratic administrations.”
According to a 2017 marketing report produced by Southwick Associates Inc. for the Shooting Sports Foundation, gunmakers depend on what is called the “Anxious Buyer” for bumps in sales.
“Drawing attention to the concern that firearm sales could be further restricted will have a great impact on Anxious Buyers,” the report said, calling AR-style weapons “best bets” for increased sales.
The report goes on to state that the military-style weapons accounted for more than a quarter of the $10 billion in U.S. firearms sales last year.
You can read the whole report here. (Subscription required)