Back when President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, CNN reported that gun sales were way up. “I had a guy waiting here first thing in the morning [after the election.],” one gun store owner told the channel. “He came in, bought two AK-47s.”
Five years later, it turns out the worst possible thing for gun manufacturers is a Republican president.
Even in the wake of the Parkland shooting, which has spurred the strongest push for gun control we’ve seen in years, the AP reports that gun sales have slowed dramatically. American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of Smith & Wesson, reported on an earnings call last week that revenue was down a third over the past quarter; since Trump’s election, American Outdoor’s stock has plunged 67 points, while Sturm Ruger — the largest firearms manufacturer in the country — has seen its stock drop 28 points.
“The day after the election, it’s just like somebody turned a faucet off,” one gun store owner told the AP. Another said that despite the Parkland shooting, business was “just like normal.” That’s a stark contrast to the response after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting; last year, researchers found that the massacre of twenty children and six teachers led to an extra 3 million guns being sold in the five months following the tragedy.
Although the slow in sales can be mostly attributed to the fact that gun owners know a Republican government won’t touch the nearly-unlimited access to ownership they currently enjoy, it’s also worth considering that we may be finally reaching a turning point in the gun debate. Companies seeking to avoid bad press are abandoning the NRA in droves (which has helped to tank gun stocks), and in a Quinnipiac poll taken after the Parkland shooting, two-thirds of those polled supported a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons.
Whether that’ll translate into actual changes in public policy is another story altogether.