Gunmakers see stock price increases in days after riots at US Capitol

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Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY
Published 1:37 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2021 | Updated 5:53 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2021FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInFront pages capture chaos of riots at US Capitol Fullscreen

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Gunmakers see stock price increases in days after riots at US Capitol

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Firearm sales reached an all-time high in 2020 as Americans anticipated the possibility of additional gun control measures under a Joe Biden administration.

In 2021, gun sales could be in for another banner year given investors’ reaction to the Capitol riots.

The stocks for several major gun manufacturers have risen sharply after rioters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building Wednesday and interrupted certification of Biden as the next president.

While gun sales data in the time since the violence is not yet available, the stock price increases for gunmakers suggest investors believe 2021 will be another strong year.

The movement also comes amid concerns about further violence as Inauguration Day approaches Jan. 20. 

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Shares of Vista Outdoor; Sturm, Ruger & Co.; and Smith & Wesson increased immediately after Wednesday afternoon’s attacks. From Wednesday morning’s market open through Monday’s close, they were up about 10%, 4% and 2%, respectively. Smith & Wesson had risen 12% by Monday morning but relinquished some of those gains in the afternoon. By contrast, the S&P 500 rose 2% during that stretch.

It’s unclear whether investors believe gun manufacturers will benefit from Trump supporters purchasing weapons, general concern among other Americans about civil unrest, both or other reasons. Industry leaders have not weighed in.

Representatives for Vista, Ruger and Smith & Wesson did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Gunmakers see stock price increases in days after riots at US Capitol

 (Photo: Getty Images)

Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry’s trade association, declined to comment on the possibility that the Capitol riots jolted gun sales. But he condemned the attack as un-American.

“The destruction of the U.S. Capitol was as shocking and abhorrent to the members of the National Shooting Sports Foundation as it was to the rest of the nation,” he said in an email. “The violence visited upon the cradle of democracy and the law enforcement officers protecting it was reprehensible.”

In 2020, gun sales reached nearly 23 million, up from the previous record of 16.6 million in 2016, according to estimates by Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, a research consultancy.

FBI data on instant background checks for gun purchasers – a metric generally viewed as a proxy for real-time gun sales – is reported monthly. FBI spokesperson Holly Morris said January data would not be available until early February.

The National Rifle Association, which represents the interests of gun owners, declined to comment for this story.

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