Shares of U.S. firearm makers surged on Monday as renewed fears of tighter gun control after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history led to expectations of a spike in firearm sales.
Sturm Ruger & Co. (RGR) soared 8.3 percent to $62.16, while Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC) 6.6 percent at $22.82 in late afternoon trading.
Shares of gun manufacturers typically increase after a mass shooting as investors speculate that tougher gun-control measures may be enacted, spurring sales before any new measures take effect, Bloomberg News reported.
A man armed with an assault rifle and pledging loyalty to Islamic State killed 50 people during a gay pride celebration at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida early on Sunday.
The rampage, by New York-born Florida resident Omar Mateen, was denounced by President Barack Obama, who had previously blasted Congressional inaction on gun control.
Gun sales also jumped in January after Obama vowed to use executive powers to expand background checks for buyers and bolster licensing requirements for dealers.
The Orlando shooting is also expected to reignite emotional debates over American gun laws and homeland security in what is shaping up to be a vitriolic U.S. presidential campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used to vet consumer gun purchases and is a gauge of firearm demand, jumped more than 25 percent for the three months through January, Smith & Wesson said in March. That period included a terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, California, and coordinated attacks in Paris.
Addressing the nation, Obama said the Orlando spree, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, is a reminder of how easy it is to obtain weapons under U.S. law. “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be,” he said. “And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
Hillary Clinton, the probable Democratic nominee for president, reiterated her support of stricter controls on who can purchase guns.
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump plans a “major speech” in New Hampshire on Monday to address the Orlando attack, immigration and national security, his campaign said in an e-mailed statement. “If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said. “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” he said also on Twitter.
The surge of gun demand following mass shootings — fueled either by speculation about stricter gun control or by a heightened desire for self-defense — usually subsides. That has created a volatile industry that gunmakers have tried to address by making their production more flexible.
“There have been some significant ups and downs in demand as political rhetoric and threats have spurred demand above the underlying normal rate,” Sturm Ruger Chief Executive Officer Michael Fifer said at the company’s annual meeting last month. “These spikes in demand have then been followed by periods when demand retreated as the threats to gun rights failed to materialize to quite the degree that had caused the spike in the first place.”
However, several gun shop owners and managers interviewed by Reuters said they were yet to see an increase in gun sales or ammunition following Sunday's shooting.
"It's been a regular Monday," said Edward Pepper, the owner of Belle, Missouri-based Osage County Guns.
Pepper said he had not seen a spike in gun sales, unlike in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
People seem to have come to terms with the idea that there is no government effort to take away guns, he said.
Wolf Laughlin, the manager of Helotes, Texas-based Gun Shack, said that business was actually slower than usual, perhaps because people were waiting for government response to the shooting.
However, BB&T Capital Markets analyst Brian Ruttenbur, citing an industry contact, said media coverage and recent statements by politicians on the events over the weekend were spurring buying of military style rifles.
If the buying momentum is sustained, it could result in a pickup in manufacturing orders, which were expected to slow this year due to decreasing consumer demand, he said.
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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