Gun shops eye busy Black Friday despite
Hillary Clinton loss
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[November 21, 2016]
By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Christmas came
early for U.S. gun shop owners - who saw a rush of firearms purchases
ahead of the presidential election - but they may now be hard-pressed to
match last year's record holiday sales.
Gun merchants had a record October, federal background check data shows,
as gun enthusiasts snapped up pistols and rifles on fears that Democrat
Hillary Clinton would win the White House and seek to restrict
Traffic has fallen off substantially since Republican Donald Trump, a
gun rights supporter, won the presidency on Nov. 8. Shares of Smith &
Wesson Holding Corp <SWHC.O> are down 15 percent since then, despite a
rebound this week, while Sturm Ruger & Company's <RGR.N> stock is 17
Like most other retailers, gun sellers thrive during the holidays. Last
year's Black Friday featured record activity for a single day, according
background check data.
December 2015 was the second busiest month ever, topped only by December
2012, when President Barack Obama threatened to rein in gun rights after
a deranged man killed 26 people, including 20 children, in a shooting
rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Obama, a Democrat, never enacted any sweeping new gun restrictions
because he faced opposition in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Now, with this year's Black Friday just days away, gun dealers say
traffic is regaining momentum after the post-election drop.
"I'm not expecting it to be any slower than our normal Black Friday,"
said Kellie Weeks, owner of Georgia Gun Store in Gainesville, Georgia.
"But if Hillary had won, we would have sold out already."
After Obama was elected in 2008, November background checks jumped 48
percent compared to the prior November, according to background check
data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. By comparison, checks
rose a more modest 5 percent in November 2004 after Republican George W.
Bush was re-elected.
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A Christmas tree sits on the counter at the Pony Express Firearms
shop in Parker, Colorado December 7, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File
Such checks are the best proxy for data on gun sales, which gun
manufacturers do not publicly release. The foundation strips the
data of applications for conceal-carry permits - typically made by
people who already own guns - to give a better reflection of actual
Through October 2016, background checks are up 15 percent compared
to the same amount of time last year, suggesting another a strong
year of overall sales.
Wall Street expects Smith & Wesson's revenue to increase 28 percent
in 2016 and 11 percent next year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Springfield, Massachusetts, company reports its October-quarter
results on December 1.
Even after the recent selloff, Smith & Wesson's stock is up 10
percent in 2016, better than the S&P 500's 7-percent rise.
Gilbert's Gun Shop in Frankfort, Kentucky, expects to sell fewer
high-capacity magazines over the holidays because customers no
longer fear they will be banned. But the shop and other gun stores
consulted by Reuters remain hopeful that demand for newly launched
compact and target pistols will help spur a busy holiday season.
"Some categories might be light," he said. "But in general, sales
through Black Friday and Christmas, I still think will be very
(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Dan Burns and Brian
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