News & Politics

Gun Stocks Soar Following Massacre in Las Vegas

The nation may be reeling—but not its arms manufacturers.

The Las Vegas massacre has already surpassed the carnage at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fl. as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. At least 58 people have been killed and more than 500 treated for injuries, their blood still drying on the Vegas strip outside the Mandalay Bay Casino. The nation is reeling for the second time in as many years, but not its gun manufacturers. As of Monday morning, stocks for American Outdoor Brands (previously Smith & Wesson) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. were up 7 and 6 percent respectively.

These numbers will come as little surprise to lobbyists and industry insiders. Data indicate that gun sales spike in the wake of mass shootings, as consumers stock up in anticipation of government reforms limiting access to the kinds of weapons used in massacres like the one at Oregon's Umpqua Community College two years ago.

The irony is that substantive gun reform has never materialized, even after 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut were executed in 2012. Earlier this year, Trump actually signed a bill into law overturning an Obama-era regulation making it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a firearm. On Monday, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the Senate's most passionate gun control advocates, admonished his colleagues in Congress to "get off [their] asses and do something."

The gun market has plummeted since Trump assumed office, as fears of restrictive legislation have all but dissolved. According to Marketwatch, the price of American Outdoor has dropped 46 percent since January, while another weapons manufacturer, Vista Outdoor, is down 40 percent.

Don Turner, head of the NRA's Nevada affiliate, has preemptively dismissed calls for gun reform, claiming, “When someone has that kind of mentality, it doesn’t matter what kind of laws you have." The NRA's champions in Congress, meanwhile, are on the brink of passing legislation that would loosen restrictions on silencers, making mass shootings that much easier to carry out.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

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