SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS THERE IS NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO SELL GUNS
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld an Alameda County law barring gun stores within 500 feet of residential properties in a blow to gun rights advocates.
The high court declined to take up the case of businessman John Teixeira and his partners who found the California county’s zoning ordinances made it impossible to find a commercial property where they could operate a gun store.
The challenge had been filed with the Supreme Court after the U.S. 9th Circuit ruled in October that local governments could regulate the sale of firearms so long as patrons could still buy them somewhere in the area. The ruling said the Second Amendment does not protect the ability to engage in gun sales.
The case was backed by a number of gun rights groups to include the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, the Calguns Foundation, and the Second Amendment Foundation, with attorneys Alan Gura and Don Kilmer at the helm. In the matter, the groups contended the zoning effectively put the entire county off-limits to new gun stores, threatening the constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms by making them unavailable.
The original challenge dates back to 2012 after the plaintiffs attempted for two years to comply with the county’s requirements, but had difficulty finding a location at least 500-feet away from a residential area, day care center, school or other “sensitive areas.” While the men were initially granted a variance from the 500-foot rule to lease a location 446 feet away from a residential area, county officials reversed the decision after a local homeowners’ association objected, leading the entrepreneurs to seek redress with the courts.
While a District Court initially upheld the rule, a split three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit in 2016 found Alameda County’s regulations unconstitutional. The majority noted that county officials should provide evidence showing, for instance, that gun stores increase crime to justify such regulations. That decision, in turn, was vacated and the case was sent for retrial before the larger en banc panel last year who held there were no such constitutional protections on gun sales.
Gun control advocates who stood with the county and filed a number of supporting briefs arguing on behalf of the ban applauded the news from the court. “The Ninth Circuit agreed with our position that Alameda County’s modest zoning law provides a safe distance between new gun dealers and sensitive areas such as schools, and is a lawful exercise of the County’s authority to regulate the commercial sale of guns,” said Hannah Shearer, who handles litigation for the Giffords Law Center. “The Ninth Circuit’s ruling, and the Supreme Court’s decision to let it stand, is an important victory for local governments seeking to keep the sale and spread of guns away from kids and residential areas.”
5/16/18 | by Chris Eger
STATE DEPARTMENT RELEASES DRAFT OF RELAXED EXPORT RULES
The Department of State released a draft proposal this week easing export restrictions on firearms and ammunition.
The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls finally unveiled the suggested amendments to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) on Monday, shifting oversight of commercial arms sales to the Commerce Department and its Export Administration Regulations (EAR).
The rule change could give American manufacturers more leeway to sell guns internationally, creating more jobs stateside and adhering to the president’s “Buy American” policy platform. Lawrence Keane, senior vice president for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said in September relaxed restrictions would boost annual gun sales by as much as 20 percent.
“One of the guideposts we used in writing the proposed policy change was to look at what’s commercially available in sporting goods stores in the United States — products where the majority of the end users are not military,” a senior Commerce Department official told The Washington Times.
The proposal removes non-automatic and semi-automatic firearms from ITAR categories I and II. Corresponding parts and ammunition will no longer remain in category III. Firearms dealers large and small would no longer pay a $2,250 ITAR registration fee or a $250 licensing fee.
Instead, the products will transfer to the EAR — and undergo far less regulatory scrutiny, critics fear.
“Under the guise of reducing burdens to completing a sale, this Administration wants to make it easier for a dictator to use American firearms to oppress their people or for terrorists to build armories.”,” said Robin Lloyd, director of government affairs for the Giffords Law Center. “It’s clear the Administration will do anything to appease the gun lobby – even if it means putting profits over the safety of people around the world.”
The new rules will be published in the Federal Register later this month and be subject to a 45-day public comment period.
5/16/18 | by Christen Smith
COURT APPROVES $75 MILLION LOAN TO KEEP REMINGTON AFLOAT
A federal judge approved a $75 million loan Tuesday to keep Remington in business as it navigates Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, court records show.
The 200-year-old gun maker filed in Delaware bankruptcy court Sunday, seeking to restructure a nearly $1 billion debt load after reporting weak sales throughout the year. The company turned a profit of just $21.6 million in 2016.
Sarah Foss, a legal analyst at Debtwire, told CNN Money the loan represents the”interim amount to get them through the interim period until they get to that final hearing on the additional amount that they’re going to need.” Remington asked for up to $338 million by April 29, according to CNN.
The money, though just a fraction of what Remington needs, will help the company make payroll and churn out firearms — just as it has since Eliphalet Remington assembled his first hand built rifle in 1816.
Cerberus Capital, a private investment firm, bought the company in 2006 in hopes of launching a multi-brand publicly-traded conglomerate headlined by the iconic gun maker. Investors began pulling out of the group, however, after a lone gunman shot and killed 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a Bushmaster rifle.
Remington fell on harder times still after President Donald Trump’s surprise electoral victory left the industry flush with inventory and short on buyers. Competitors Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger and Company reported depleted earnings throughout 2017 as fears of looming gun control waned.
The company delayed plans to file for bankruptcy protections after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida claimed 17 lives. The ensuing heightened political tensions encouraged corporations and financial institutions to rethink their relationships with the gun industry — a fact Remington fears could hurt future profits.
Once it completes its 45-day bankruptcy plan, Cerberus will turn ownership over to Franklin Resources Inc. and JPMorgan Asset Management.
Kevin Cassidy, an analyst at Moodys Investor Service, said Remington faces an uphill battle against fluctuating attitudes toward gun ownership.
“It absolutely hurts them, being in this kind of industry,”he told Bloomberg. “Just like some funds no matter what won’t invest in tobacco, there are investors now that feel the same about gun companies.”
3/29/18 | by Christen Smith
SAAMI POSTS APPROVES .224 VALKYRIE CARTRIDGE SPECS
The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute approved Federal Premium Ammunition’s .224 Valkyrie as an official new cartridge, officially publishing SAAMI standards documents for the long range cartridge.
Free access to technical data and drawings for the new cartridge and chamber designs are now available via SAAMI’s website. The .224 Valkyrie, introduced to the industry in late 2017, is based on a 6.8 SPC case necked down to .22 caliber. The cartridge is designed to work best alongside modern sporting rifle platforms, allowing the rifles to shoot past 1,000 yards.
Founded in 1926, SAAMI is tasked with creating and publishing industry standards for safety and quality in addition to coordinating technical data. The organization said a team of industry experts analyzed the Valkyrie round over a period of six months to determine whether it should be approved by the organization. Ultimately, the round was approved and Federal Premium says its excited to have SAAMI’s support.
“It’s thrilling to have brought the world’s best MSR 15 cartridge to market. We’re proud and excited about our new cartridge, and we deeply appreciate SAAMI’s support with this launch,” Federal Premium Ammunition President Jason Vanderbrink, said in a press release. “SAAMI’s approval of the cartridge was a crucial step in legitimizing it within the industry. Their work creates standards for the cartridge, increasing safety, interchangeability, reliability and quality for the dozens of firearm manufacturers currently building rifles in our 224 Valkyrie.”
The .224 Valkyrie is currently offered in four loads from Federal Premium — 90-grain Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing, 60-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Varmint, 90-grain Fusion MSR and 75-grain American Eagle TMJ.
3/28/18 | by Jacki Billings
DOJ RELEASES REGULATION BANNING BUMP STOCKS
The Department of Justice unveiled a regulation late last week “effectively banning” bump stocks.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the new rule clarifies bump stocks fall under the definition of “machine gun” as it pertains to the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.
“Since the day he took office, President Trump has had no higher priority than the safety of each and every American,” Sessions said in a news release Friday. “That is why today the Department of Justice is publishing for public comment a proposed rulemaking that would define ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock-type devices under federal law—effectively banning them.”
The move comes five weeks after Trump publicly leaned on Sessions and the department to draft a regulation banning bump stocks — and soon. The accessory, which mimics automatic gun fire, gained notoriety in October after a lone gunman mowed down 58 people and injured more than 850 others on the Las Vegas strip with a dozen rifles modified with the devices.
“After the senseless attack in Las Vegas, this proposed rule is a critical step in our effort to reduce the threat of gun violence that is in keeping with the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress,” Sessions said.
The proposal represents an about-face for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Back in 2010, the agency declined regulating a bump stock device submitted for review by Texas-based manufacturer Slide Fire Solutions. Rick Vasquez, the now-retired agent who made the call, stood by his decision in October after federal investigators found the same brand attached to firearms in the Las Vegas shooter’s hotel suite.
“The Slide Fire does not fire automatically with a single pull/function of the trigger,” he said in an Oct. 7 Facebook post, noting the single pull trigger remains integral to the definition of a machine gun.
He responded briefly to the impending ban in an email to Guns.com last month. “The ATF has been directed to write a regulation that is stronger then the law,” he said. “An agency can write regulations, but only Congress can write laws.”
Nonetheless, the ATF said in the proposal Friday its previous interpretation was wrong.
“In this proposed rule, the department accordingly interprets the definition of ‘machine gun’ to clarify that all bump stock-type devices are ‘machine guns’ under the GCA and NFA because they convert a semiautomatic firearms into a firearm that shoots automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger,” the DOJ said Friday.
The official notice of proposed rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register, Sessions said.
In the meantime, gun rights groups have already promised a legal challenge.
“Gun Owners of America will seek out other pro-gun organizations to join us challenging this illegal executive action in court,” said Gun Owners of America Executive Director Erich Pratt in a news release Friday. “And we predict that an honest, constitutional and legal analysis by the courts will result in this regulation being struck down.”
Pratt eviscerated Trump for placing himself farther left than the Obama administration, noting the president’s predecessor did nothing when the ATF initially determined bump stocks harmless in 2010.
“Gun Owners of America considers a ban on bump stocks as yet another infringement of our Second Amendment-protected rights. ‘Shall not be infringed’ means what it says — gun control should NOT be the jurisdiction of the U.S. government,” he said. “To be sure, banning these items will not make us any safer and it will only lead to more infringements — to restrictions on magazines, match triggers and more. This is something that the anti-gun Left understands and is hoping for.”
3/26/18 | by Christen Smith
SECOND AMENDMENT GROUPS REACT TO YOUTUBE GUN POLICY CHANGES
National gun rights and firearms industry groups are warning YouTube that its actions could estrange the video sharing platform from millions of users, and violate constitutional rights.
In response to YouTube’s pending policy updates on videos that include firearms content, the National Rifle Association, and National Shooting Sports Foundation are concerned the move could herald a comprehensive effort to ferret out lawful gun culture and separate it from the site.
“Millions of Americans watch YouTube videos every day to learn more about the safe and responsible use of firearms, and those videos show law-abiding gun owners participating in lawful behavior,” said the NRA in a statement. “By banning this content, YouTube is engaging in politically motivated censorship and alienating the millions of people who turn to the website for education and training.”
The new rules, announced last Tuesday, including making it clear that YouTube will not host videos highlighting guns or some accessories such as bump stocks or magazines capable of holding more than 30 rounds for private sale by individuals. The Google subsidiary also said it won’t allow clips on manufacturing ammunition, guns, or suppressors or how to install or modify certain accessories. Further, links back to gun dealers and makers will not be allowed.
The NSSF warns this could have a negative effect on otherwise legal firearm commerce. “Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square,” said the gun trade group. “The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment.”
Meanwhile, content creators have been banging the drum to migrate to dedicated gun-centric platforms such as Full30, GetZone, UGE and James Yeager’s LiberTV start-up as well as alternative sites such as Vimeo, BitChute and even PornHub with reportedly good results. In the case of the latter, an adult website owned by Luxembourg-based MindGeek, the company has said they may look into a non-sexually explicit alternative offshoot for such content in the future, so it’s not so crazy to think there are valid alternatives for YouTube gun vloggers on the horizon.
3/26/18 | by Chris Eger
GUN MAKER REMINGTON FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
Firearms manufacturer Remington Outdoor Company has filed for bankruptcy protection in the face of falling sales and lawsuits stemming from the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night.
According to the Journal, Remington announced that it would file for Chapter 11 last month but the actual filing was delayed after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people.
The paper reported that Remington officials plan to hand over the reins to its creditors in exchange for writing off most of the company's debt. Cerberus Capital Management LP bought Remington for $118 million in 2007, assuming $252 million in debt in the process.
Cerberus later formed a holding company called the Freedom Group Inc., consisting of Remington and other firearms manufacturers -- including Bushmaster, which Cerberus had purchased in 2006.
The Journal reported that the gun industry is facing low demand and high stock after Donald Trump's unexpected election to the presidency in 2016. According to the paper, firearms manufacturers boosted output in the run-up to the election, expecting that a Hillary Clinton victory would lead to a boost in sales ahead of tighter gun laws.
In 2016, families of the Sandy Hook victims filed a wrongful-death suit against Remington, claiming that it had negligently marketed "military-style" weapons to younger demographics -- namely, 20-year-old Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza.
A trial judge dismissed the initial lawsuit, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which is considering the matter.
Katie-Mesner Hage, an attorney with Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, which represents Sandy Hook families in their lawsuit against the gun manufacturer said in a statement that “We do not expect this filing to affect the families’ case in any material way.”
Founded in 1816, Remington is America's oldest gun maker.
By Samuel Chamberlain | Fox News
TWO FILE AGE DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS ON BI-MART, FRED MEYER AFTER REFUSED AMMO, RIFLE SALES
Two Oregon men under age 21 have lodged complains with state authorities after area retailers refused to sell them ammunition and firearms due to store policy.
The men, Hayden Parsons, 20, and Jackson Starrett, 19, filed complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Civil Rights Division, saying that Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer, respectively, refused to sell them guns and ammo due to their age. In each case, the men said they were told they were denied their sale over company policies refusing to transfer any firearm or ammunition to adults under age 21. Parsons sought to buy rifle ammunition and was turned away while Starrett sought to purchase a rifle.
While federal regulators allow licensed gun dealers to refuse to sell firearms to eligible buyers, numerous states, including Oregon, have protections in place against retailers discriminating against purchasers based on age.
Earlier this month Tyler Watson, 20, filed lawsuits against both Dick’s and Walmart claiming they violated the state’s discrimination laws after they refused to sell him a rifle due to his age. Dick’s was named with a second lawsuit just days later by an 18-year-old Michigan man on much the same grounds, while another Oregon man, Airion Grace, hit both Bi-Mart and Fred Meyer with separate legal actions.
The retailers involved have recently made high-profile changes to company policies, upping the minimum age for gun and ammo sales in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by a 19-year-old that left more than a dozen students and faculty dead.
In Oregon, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian warned state lawmakers that the bureau sees “nothing that would preclude an individual from filing a complaint with BOLI if they believe a retailer unfairly denied them service in the purchase of a gun.” Avakian went on to say his agency would submit legislation for the 2019 session to help provide legal cover for dealers to legally refuse gun sales based on age and encouraged policymakers to institute licensing requirements, gun registration and bans on “military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the firearms industry, warns FFLs that at least nine states and Washington, D.C. allow for a private right of action where it comes to age discrimination laws.
Fred Meyers has subsequently announced they were exiting the business of firearm retail citing declining sales and a need to optimize floor space.
3/23/18 | by Chris Eger
CITIBANK IMPLEMENTS NEW POLICY REQUIREMENTS FOR PARTNERING GUN DEALERS
Citibank announced this week it will cut ties with partnering businesses unwilling to adopt new policies for selling firearms.
Dealers large and small wishing to do business with Citi must place age restrictions on gun sales, ban bump stocks and high capacity magazines and refuse to complete transactions when buyers fail background checks, Executive Vice President Ed Skylar, of Citi’s Global Public Affairs, said Thursday.
“It is not centered on an ideological mission to rid the world of firearms. That is not what we seek,” he said in a blog post on the company’s website. “There are millions of Americans who use firearms for recreational and other legitimate purposes, and we respect their Constitutional right to do so. But we want to do our part as a company to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands.”
It’s unclear which business and gun makers will be impacted by the new policies, but Skylar said Citi will perform “its due diligence in initiating those conversations.”
Citibank’s new policies follow a corporate backlash against perceived lax gun laws in the wake of the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Florida. Leadership at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, L.L. Bean and Kroger all adopted stricter gun sales policies — similar to Citi’s new requirements — as a response to inaction on Capitol Hill.
“We know that the actions we are taking today will invite passion on both sides,” Skylar said. “We don’t have the perfect solution but we have come to the conclusion that we must do our part to keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to do harm. And we hope our actions help achieve that vital goal.”
3/23/18 | by Christen Smith
REMINGTON MAY ENTER BANKRUPTCY COURT THIS WEEK
Remington Outdoor Company updated a restructuring support agreement with lenders this week, putting the gun giant days away from filing for bankruptcy protections.
In Monday’s agreement, Remington laid out a timeline that set March 18 as the deadline to file a case in federal bankruptcy court. With Chapter 11 protections, the company would continue operating while negotiating with creditors and the court to restructure its nearly $1 billion debt load.
Remington named the newly formed Ankura Trust Company as an administrative agent, a role that manages payments and communications between the borrower and lender. Ankura, which formed in January, specializes in working with companies in “distressed and default situations.”
Initially, the gun maker named Bank of America as administrative agent, but the bank stepped away from the role, which delayed the process. Remington announced plans to prepare for bankruptcy two days before a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead and 15 others injured. The incident sparked national protests that caused investment firms and banks, including BoA, to review their relationships with gun companies.
With the heated political environment, Remington’s owners and creditors are looking for a quick transition. Remington’s owner, private investment firm Cerberus Capital, began building the conglomerate in 2006 to include more than a dozen brands, the biggest being Remington Arms, to one day turn the massive company public. But investors began to back out after one of the company’s products was used in the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012.
Once Remington completes its 45-day bankruptcy reorganization plan, Cerberus will hand over ownership to lenders including investment firm Franklin Resources and investment bank JP Morgan in exchange for cutting the $950 million debt load, Bloomberg reported.
The new owners would be responsible for shoring up new financing, some $200 million, to fund Remington’s operations and would sell the company as a whole or in parts, most likely, within a few months after coming out of bankruptcy court, Bloomberg reported. Since the deal comes along as distaste for gun investments grows, new owners would likely be smaller financial firms or possibly even another gun company.
Remington, alongside other gun companies, has seen soft market conditions since President Trump took office. Trump, running against a candidate pushing a gun control agenda, vowed to be a friend to the gun rights community. While Trump in the White House gives hope for a pro-gun agenda, it has hurt sales.
Remington, also like other major gun companies, built a surplus of inventory believing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win and would continue former President Obama’s gun control agenda. Then, after Clinton lost the election, gun sales fell 12 percent nationally and Remington suffered a $28 million loss.
Yet, Remington had laid the groundwork to improve production. In 2014, Remington began relocating manufacturing operations for its more than a dozen brands to Huntsville, Alabama. The company projected that the effort would reduce operating costs by tens-of-millions.
3/15/18 | by Daniel Terrill
RUGER BOASTS ABOUT SAFETY RECORD, DEFENDS ARS IN LETTER TO SHAREHOLDERS
Sturm, Ruger & Company executives told shareholders Monday they do not and cannot support “stripping” gun rights away from millions of Americans “due to the evil actions of a small number of criminals.” That’s how the Connecticut company concluded their letter after receiving a questionnaire by BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest money manager with some $1.7 trillion in active funds, and as investment firms and banks review their relationships with the gun industry.
Influenced by the activism of students and victims after last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, BlackRock said it wanted to provide more information to clients so they could make investments in line with their social values. The investment company asked publicly traded gun companies about their policies and practices so it could better understand the risks involved in the business.
After the 19-year-old gunman murdered 17 people and injured another 15 with an AR rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, gun control activists turned to corporate America for action instead of lawmakers who have repeatedly failed to pass new firearm regulations. Major retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart opted to raise the age for buying long guns from 18 to 21, a measure the pro-gun White House briefly considered until abandoning it this week. Dick’s also ended the sale of “assault-style” weapons.
Ruger executives, president and chief executive officer Chris Killoy and board chairman Michael Jacobi, defended the industry’s current standards and warned that altering their practices under political pressure would actually create risk. “Political expediency flies in the face of our fiduciary responsibility as stewards of the Company for the benefit of shareholders. Moreover, many of the proposals being advanced, while well-meaning, run counter to what our customers actually want,” they said.
In defense of AR-style rifles, Ruger executives defined the ability of a semi-automatic rifle as firing one shot per trigger pull and explained Ruger has produced firearms with that basic operation since 1949. “We do not plan to discontinue the manufacture or commercial sale of Modern Sporting Rifles,” they said, adding few are used in crime.
“Thus, their legitimate uses by responsible citizens far outnumber their misuses by criminals, who clearly have serious mental health issues that should prevent them from possessing any firearm,” Ruger executives said.
The company execs boasted about Ruger having a perfect inspection record, saying since 2010, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted five full inspections at its three facilities across the country and inspectors found no violations. “We are extremely proud of our ATF compliance efforts and the robust program we have in place,” the executives said.
“In fact, we conduct our own compliance inspections using ATF protocol multiple times each year at our manufacturing facilities, which include 100 percent verification of all serialized inventory,” they said and added that Ruger also participates in the ATF Access 2000, a system that allows law enforcement to trace Ruger firearms recovered at crime scenes or from criminals.
In response to questions about safety features, company execs said Ruger has been “innovative” in developing firearm safety features. “We were the first to invent a way to incorporate a transfer bar into a Colt-type, single-action revolver, which can help prevent accidental discharges if the user neglects to handle the revolver safely,” they said.
But they criticized smart gun features, which would disable a firearm until a biometric like a fingerprint unlocks it, calling the technology “unreliable, easily defeated, or both.” Instead, they argued, their providing cable locks with new firearms “can help prevent unauthorized access without the complexities and drawbacks of ‘smart guns.’”
On Ruger’s effort to promote public safety, company execs pointed to their support of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s FixNICS initiative. The trade group’s program aims to improve the federal background check system without the need for lawmakers to pass new laws. They also said they support other NSSF gun safety education programs, claiming such programs have a proven track record of decreasing gun-related accidents.
Executives clarified that Ruger does not sell guns directly to customers, but rather distributes shipments of guns to independent distributors and wholesalers which supply retailers with inventory. They explained each entity is licensed by the federal government and that before a firearm is transferred to a customer, the customer must pass a background check.
Competitor American Outdoor Brands, the holding company for Massachusetts gun maker Smith & Wesson, published an open letter to BlackRock last week that hit on many of the same points. Vista Outdoor has not yet published a letter and it’s unclear if it will. With brands like Savage Arms and about half a dozen ammo companies, the shooting sports make up more than half of Vista’s sales. But the corporate backlash has also impacted its non-gun related companies, with major retailers boycotting them as well.
3/14/18 | by Daniel Terrill
GUN MAKER RESCINDS SUPPORT FOR ‘FIX NICS’ AFTER WEEKEND CRITICISM
Daniel Defense dropped support for the bipartisan Fix NICS bill pending in the U.S. Senate after social media users threatened to boycott the company.
Even though the measure had already been endorsed by leading gun rights groups and the White House, the company’s owner, Marty Daniel, said on Monday that he was wrong to support the bill and cannot “in good conscience” support it any longer.
“I released the original statement because I believed it was the best option available at this time to hold back the continued attacks on the Second Amendment and the erosion of our rights,” he said in a message posted on the company’s Facebook page.
Daniel explained since releasing the statement on Friday, he had received “overwhelming feedback” that “brought to my attention that there are significant and justified concerns regarding this bill.” In Friday’s statement, Daniel called the bill “the only common sense approach to keeping firearms out of the hands of the wrong people” and asked Daniel Defense fans and customers to urge Congress to pass it.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn filed the Fix NICS Act with co-sponsor Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, to strengthen the effectiveness of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill would create incentives for state and federal agencies to promptly report disqualifying records to the FBI so NICS could better identify prohibited buyers.
The senators filed the bill in November, after a gunman murdered 26 people at a church in Southerland Springs, Texas. The gunman in that scenario had been convicted of domestic violence during his service in the Air Force, but the Defense Department failed to report the prohibiting details. The gaffe allowed him to pass the NICS check requested by the licensed gun dealer that transferred him the rifle would use in the attack.
The Fix NICS Act became a key component of a White House plan for preventing mass shootings, particularly at schools, after a gunman who had been making dangerous threatening comments to peers opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring 15 others.
Even though President Trump had supported a similar measure of the same name, he said he opted for Cornyn and Murphy’s bill because it has bipartisan support and mass appeal. The other was tied to a partisan legislative package aiming to expand concealed carry to all 50 states and is unlikely to pass in the Senate.
The Fix NICS bill has also gained support from the two largest gun lobbyist groups, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, as well as pro-gun control groups, which call it a step in the right direction.
Advocacy efforts led by students and victims in the Parkland attack have influenced corporate America to take action. Multiple financial firms and banks said they would review their policies about investing in the gun industry, a handful of retailers changed gun sales policies, and dozens of brands broke business relationships with the NRA. However, few gun companies have pushed for policy change. Those that had were public companies and therefore had obligations to answer to investors.
In response to a financial firm’s questionnaire, American Outdoor Brands defended industry standards and defaulted to the legislative guidance of the NSSF, a trade group that represents gun and ammo companies. Sturm, Ruger & Company also said it supports proper enforcement of existing laws.
Fix NICS has picked up 67 co-sponsors — including 34 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and two Independents — since it was filed in November. The bill was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee in December, but it’s unclear when the committee will hear the measure.
3/13/18 | by Daniel Terrill
MICROSTAMPING CASE HEADED FOR CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT ARGUMENT
California’s high court is set to hear arguments in a long running case brought by firearms industry groups who say the state’s microstamping requirement is unattainable.
The case, challenging the state’s 2007 unsafe handgun modification requirements, is set for arguments in a Los Angeles court on April 4.
Plaintiffs, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, insist the legal requirement for semi-auto handguns to mark cartridges with a microscopic array of characters, that identify the make, model and serial number of the pistol upon firing is “impossible to accomplish” and has only worked to artificially limit choices available to California gun buyers. At stake is the ability to purchase newly manufactured semi-auto handguns in the state.
“Since going into effect this ill-advised law has banned the introduction of any new models of handguns into California reducing consumers’ ability to purchase the best and most advanced handguns on the market while doing nothing to improve public safety,” said Michael Bazinet, an NSSF spokesman in a statement to Guns.com.
The suit was originally brought by the trade groups in 2014, arguing that the technology was unproven in actual field conditions and easy for criminals to defeat.
California Superior Court Judge Donald Black dismissed the case in 2015, citing the state had sovereign immunity and further holding the gun groups lacked standing to sue. On a subsequent appeal to the California 5th Appellate District, a three-judge panel later held that NSSF and SAAMI have “a right to present evidence to prove their claim” and the state Supreme Court voted last year to hear the case.
In 2014, just after the California Department of Justice began enforcing the mandate that new pistols submitted for approval to the state’s firearm roster incorporate microstamping capabilities, there were some 1,152 approved models. That roster has since constricted to 791 as legacy handguns, certified for a five-year period, cannot meet the new requirement. For instance, no Generation 4 or 5 Glocks handguns have been approved for sale in California. While handgun giant Ruger has 60 models on the list, all but one is a revolver, which are exempt from the microstamping requirement.
“We look forward to the arguments and are confident the Supreme Court will affirm the Court of Appeal rejection of the state’s argument and permit us to prove that it is impossible for firearms manufacturers to comply with the mandates of the statute,” said Bazinet.
The California Department of Justice and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment or statement.
3/13/18 | by Chris Eger
BREAKING NEWS: DOJ MOVES TO RECLASSIFY BUMP STOCKS AS ‘MACHINE GUNS’
The Department of Justice has announced it is seeking to reclassify rifles fitted with bump stocks as ‘machine guns’. This would see the wording of the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act amended to include ‘bump stock type devices’.
The decision comes in the wake of the shootings in Las Vegas and Florida (although the FL shooter did not have a bump stock). Over the past couple of months a number of prominent bodies including the NSSF, SAAMI and the NRA have signalled their acceptance of the need to review the law.
The Department of Justice is acting on a memorandum signed by the President in February directing the department to make a regulatory change to the law regarding bump stocks.
Here is the Department of Justice’s full statement:
Today the Department of Justice submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the definition of “machinegun” in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act includes bump stock type devices, and that federal law accordingly prohibits the possession, sale, or manufacture of such devices.
“President Trump is absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of every American and he has directed us to propose a regulation addressing bump stocks,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “To that end, the Department of Justice has submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the National Firearms and Gun Control Act defines ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock type devices.”
This submission is a formal requirement of the regulatory review process. Once approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice will seek to publish this notice as expeditiously as possible.
The move would overrule any previous rulings made by the ATF. While the change to the law still needs to be reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the change will not be voted on by Congress. The exact wording of the changes to the law have not yet been released and the status of bump stocks already owned is unclear.
by Matthew Moss
SMITH & WESSON ANNOUNCES SALES SLUMP & CONFIRM JOB CUTS
Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoor Brands Corporation, released its Third Quarter Fiscal 2018 Financial Results on 1st March announcing a substantial fall in sales. The company expects ‘flattish’ revenues from the firearms sector for at least the next 12 to 18 months.
Established in 2002, American Outdoor brands include Smith & Wesson, Gemtech and Crimson Trace. On the 1st March, the company reported that quarterly net sales fell by 32.6% – down to $157.4 million, compared to the $233.5 million for the third quarter of 2017.
In a press release issued with the financial report James Debney, President and CEO explained that the company’s “results for the third quarter reflected a continuation of challenging market conditions in the consumer market for firearms. …new, lower levels of consumer firearm demand we saw reflected in the January NICS results may continue for some time.”
The slow down in sales and the potential for overproduction has required Smith & Wesson to slow production and inevitably reduce its workforce. In a conference call, hosted to accompany the release of the report, Debney confirmed that the company had had to reduce its workforce by about 25% over that past year. This equals more than 200 staff.
The company’s CFO and executive vice president, Jeff Buchanan, said in the press release that American Outdoor Brands “ended the quarter with cash of $38.2 million and net debt of approximately $200 million. Our focus on reducing production levels during the quarter helped to lower inventories of our firearms.”
Buchanan went on to describe cashflow for the quarter as ‘positive’ and that the “balance sheet remains strong with no short-term debt and we anticipate positive cash flow for our fiscal fourth quarter.” despite the continued downturn Debney remained upbeat saying that “our long-term strategy remains focused on being the leading provider of quality products for the shooting, hunting, and rugged outdoor enthusiast.”
You can view the financial report and press release from American Outdoor Brands here.
by Matthew Moss
TWO OUTDOOR RETAILERS STALL ORDERS WITH VISTA OUTDOOR OVER GUNS
Two outdoor retailers halted new orders of Vista Outdoor lifestyle brands — including Camelbak water bottles and Giro ski goggles — over the company’s significant profits from gun and ammunition sales.
REI and Mountain Equipment Co-op announced the decision Thursday after customers pressured the respective retailers to cut ties with Vista in the wake of the Parkland shooting last month. Vista’s “silence” on gun control and close ties with the National Rifle Association even inspired angry REI patrons to draft an online petition demanding the retailer drop Vista products entirely. The petition garnered more than 18,500 signatures as of Friday.
“REI does not sell guns,” the company said in a news release Thursday. “We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month.”
REI applauded moves from corporate leadership at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart for voluntarily banning firearm and ammo sale to customers under 21. Dick’s Chief Executive Officer Edward Stack said “assault-style” rifles would be discontinued permanently from the retailer’s more than 800 locations nationwide, as well as its three dozen Field and Stream stores.
Kroger followed suit Wednesday, imposing age restrictions on gun sales at the grocery chain’s Fred Meyer stores. L.L. Bean said via Twitter late Thursday it will implement the same policy at its flagship store in Freeport, Maine — the only location licensed to sell firearms.
“We learned that Vista does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action,” REI said of its dealings with the gun maker over the last week. “As a result, we have decided to place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds. Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead. We encourage Vista to do just that.”
The publicly-traded company owns more than three dozen brands in firearms, ammunition and shooting accessories, including Savage Arms, Stevens, Federal Premium, Speer and American Eagle. The other 46 percent of Vista’s business comes from outdoor lifestyle brands, like the products carried in REI stores and Canadian-based Mountain Equipment Co-op.
“Thousands of MEC members have contacted us to express their concerns and to ask that we stop selling products made by these brands,” said MEC Chief Executive Officer David Labistour in an open letter published Thursday. “We’ve also heard from members who believe that purchasing decisions like these should be left to individual consumers and that MEC should not get involved. The fact is, the debate has involved us and as a member-based organization we are compelled to respond.”
Labistour, a military veteran, said he identifies with both sides of the gun debate, but ultimately leaned in favor of the portion of MEC’s 5.5 million members opposed to Vista brands, saying, “I believe that engagement is the path to change, as tough as it might be.”
“From what we’ve heard, we know that no decision we make will satisfy everyone,” he said.” We are in the midst of a complex and highly charged debate with as many opinions as there are people expressing them … My responsibility as CEO is to ensure that we make thoughtful, informed decisions in the best interest of our Co-op and effect change where this is possible and consistent with our presence in the marketplace.”
The news tanked share prices for Vista by more than 10 percent as of midday Friday. The company has yet to respond to a request for comment from Guns.com.
3/02/18 | by Christen Smith
NRA TO COMPANIES: ‘LOSS OF A DISCOUNT’ WON’T SCARE MEMBERS
The National Rifle Association called corporations breaking partnerships with the gun lobby a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”
“Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world,” the organization said in a statement on Saturday.
With a national force deriding the organization’s stance on gun control policies following the deadly Florida school shooting, activists turned their focus on the companies that do business with the gun lobby. About two dozen brands so far have ended partnerships in which they offered discounted rates and services to NRA members.
In most cases, the companies said they chose to cut ties because of customer feedback. According to ThinkProgress, which has been maintaining a list of NRA’s corporate ties, report those that discontinued relationships include:
airlines Delta and United;
car rental companies Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, Alamo, and National) and Avis Budget Group (Avis, Budget, and Hertz);
software services Symantic (Norton anti-virus and LifeLock), SimpliSafe, and Wild Apricot;
moving companies Allied and North America;
car buying service TrueCar;
insurance company MetLife;
medical services Paramount RX and Starkey;
and banks The First National Bank of Omaha, Republic Bank, and Securian Financial Group.
Also, insurance underwriters Chubb Ltd and Lockton announced that they will no longer broker policies for NRA Carry Guard, the self defense insurance the gun lobby launched less than a year ago.
However, not all companies partnered with the NRA have given in to public pressure. FedEx issued a statement Monday defending the partnership. “FedEx is a common carrier under Federal law and therefore does not and will not deny service or discriminate against any legal entity regardless of their policy positions or political views,” the company said.
However, FedEx clarified that it actually opposes the NRA’s views on expanded background checks and said “assault rifles and large capacity magazines” should be restricted to the military. Despite the company’s feelings on the subject of gun control, it said it “has never set or changed rates” for customers because of politics.
Also, pro-NRA lawmakers in Georgia threatened to kill tax breaks for Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, unless the company changes its position and reinstates its relationship with the NRA. Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle tweeted: “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”
2/27/18 | by Daniel Terrill
RUGER IS IN ‘A BETTER POSITION TO SUCCEED’ AFTER WORKFORCE REDUCTIONS, CEO SAYS
Sturm, Ruger and Company’s top executive said this week a lean year forced workforce reductions across the company.
Chief Executive Officer Chris Killoy told investors Wednesday the gun maker’s headcount decreased by 28 percent over the 13-month period ending Jan. 31. The cutbacks include 700 positions, including all temporary work positions and 60 indirect labor positions.
“While we reduced production in 2017, we were mindful of the impact that would have on our people, operations and profitability,” Killoy said. “However, we had to make some difficult decisions. We developed a strategic plan focusing on not selling positions vacated through attrition and the reduction of overtime while carefully monitoring our headcount.”
“As a result, Ruger is better positioned to succeed in 2018,” he added.
Ruger reported annual net sales of $522.3 million last year, down 21 percent over 2016 — the biggest on record for federal background checks and by proxy, estimated gun sales. Fourth quarter sales dipped 27 percent to $118.2 million, according to regulatory filings published Wednesday.
Maksim Netrebov, financial analyst and contributing writer at Seeking Alpha, said his calculations show Ruger just closed on the worst year its had since 2012 — a common trend across publicly-traded gun manufacturers.
“After looking at these numbers, I cannot say that I am surprised one bit,” he said. “Overall, Ruger is weathering the storm, but there is still a lot more to go through.”
Netrebov said “no one really has a clue” how 2018 will shake out, either.
“Short of realistic gun control legislation, the demand left over from 2016 is rapidly declining, and I believe with the record high inventory numbers, 2018 will see continued pressure on prices and more sales wars,” he said.
While looming gun control has historically spurred sales, it still remains unclear how last week’s shooting in Parkland, Florida and the president’s response to it — including directing a bump stock ban and calling for improved background checks — will affect the industry.
Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also suggested raising the legal age of owning a rifle to 21, despite protests from the National Rifle Association.
“The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms,” the organization said Wednesday. “At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens. These are not mutually exclusive or unachievable goals.”
2/23/18 | by Christen Smith
VISTA OUTDOOR: AMMO PRICE INCREASE SET FOR APRIL
Vista Outdoor said ammo prices will increase for a second time this year as the industry adopts a “rational and disciplined approach” to generating sales.
Chief Executive Officer Christopher Metz told investors Thursday the company will raise prices in the low to mid single digits on certain product lines in April. Vista took a similar step in January — one Metz believes competitors will soon follow.
“I think some are a little bit slower to it than we’d like to see,” he said. “It’s impossible for me to see how competitors are not going to take price increases. They’re going to have to.”
Vista owns more than three dozen companies in firearms, ammunition and shooting accessories, including Savage Arms, Stevens, Federal Premium, Speer and American Eagle. It also holds brands in the outdoor lifestyle market.
The pricing changes following a third challenging quarter for the company. Sales topped $581 million, dipping 11 percent over last year as weak shooting sports performance drags down Vista’s gains in the outdoor market, Metz said.
Shooting sports sales dropped 21 percent while the category’s gross profit tanked 47 percent, according to regulatory filings.
Still, Metz expressed little concern about the impact of price increases on consumer demand or Vista’s bottom line.
“We are putting forward price increases that we think are realistic and so far what we’ve seen from buying behavior is no real changes,” he said. “So they’re restricting in the marketplace and they are being received well.”
Vista anticipates 2018 sales will not exceed $2.26 billion.
2/09/18 | by Christen Smith
GEMTECH SUES SMITH & WESSON FOR VIOLATING ACQUISITION AGREEMENT
Gemini Technologies accused Smith & Wesson of squashing an international sales deal to avoid paying the suppressor manufacturer a cut worth millions, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Idaho federal court.
The gun maker closed a $10 million deal in August to acquire Gemtech, promising a two-part escrow payment and a portion of any product sales proceeds over the next three years, not to exceed $17.1 million.
Gemtech said in court documents filed Jan. 24, however, the gun maker faulted on both ends of the agreement by shorting the escrow payment $1.5 million and scuttling a potential $207 million sales opportunity with buyers in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
“Smith & Wesson’s breaches violated, nullified, and significantly impaired the cash payments and the earn-out payments to Gemtech,” the complaint says.
The suppressor maker, founded in 1993, calls itself an industry leader and a favorite among U.S. military personnel, including Special Operations Forces. The company itself came back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2014 after Ron Martinez, a former Bank of America senior executive, bought a majority of its shares and pledged his home to infuse the company with much-need capital. By the time Smith & Wesson offered to buy Gemtech in March 2017, company sales exceeded $17.2 million.
Smith & Wesson appeared so impressed with Martinez’s leadership, the gun maker hired him as general manager and vowed to consult him before making any decisions that would negatively impact the payout deal secured in the asset purchase agreement (APA).
The gun maker also pledged to steer clear of any actions capable of reducing the sales payout over the next 36 months, according to court documents.
“Gemtech saw these conditions as a protection, particularly the ongoing requirement to consult with Martinez, because of what had happened to Advanced Armament Corp., LLC, and its owner Kevin Brittingham, in a similar asset purchase case by Remington,” the complaint says.
Martinez transitioned into his role for Smith & Wesson in August and began arranging an international sales demonstration in the Middle East he thought would “close easily” and generate approximately $207 million. He presented the plan to company executives Aug. 30 and explained he’d already obtained the necessary federal permits.
Despite this, Smith & Wesson’s general counsel cancelled the permits, while company executives fired Martinez and called off the sales demonstration — all without explanation. Gemtech alleges Smith & Wesson did this intentionally, knowing it would diminish the sales payout.
“The APA contains both express and implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing,” the complaint says. “Smith & Wesson breached its covenants of good faith and fair dealing by terminating Martinez’s … employment and by postponing Gemtech’s international demonstrations.”
Gemtech requests a trial by jury, damages and attorneys fees.
Smith & Wesson did not return Guns.com’s request for comment Tuesday.
1/31/18 | by Christen Smith
MASSACHUSETTS OFFICALS ORDER BUMP STOCK TURN-IN UNDER THREAT OF PROSECUTION
Officials with the Commonwealth reached out to Massachusetts gun owners to caution them the clock is ticking to hand over any bump stocks or trigger cranks.
According to a statement by the Gun Owners’ Action League, the state’s National Rifle Association affiliate, letters have been going out from state regulators to licensed gun owners warning that the controversial devices are illegal after Feb. 1. The letter adds that those who have them will have a short time period to arrange for their surrender.
“Retention of such a prohibited item beyond the 90 day grace period will expose the owner to criminal prosecution,” says Daniel Bennett, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety.
Under the new state law passed as part of a spending bill, those found guilty of possession of such devices could face anywhere from 18 months to life in prison and there is no provision to grandfather the accessories.
“In our opinion this is an illegal and unconstitutional taking of property without compensation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” says GOAL in a statement, advising they are weighing their options moving forward.
The state was the first to adopt a ban on the devices following their use in the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest festival shooting that left 58 dead. Filling in for Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito signed the measure into law just a day after the Commonwealth’s legislature forwarded the proposal to the governor’s office for consideration. Lawmakers rushed widely different bills through their respective chambers in October, only holding a token public hearing after the fact.
Under the ban’s framework, a bump stock is defined as a device that increases a gun’s rate of fire by using the recoil of the firearm “to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger.” Trigger cranks are classified as a device attached to a firearm that activates the trigger using a lever turned “in a circular motion,” with limited exceptions for guns such as Gatling guns which are specifically designed to use such a crank.
During the bill’s legislative process, state Attorney General Maura Healey led a call from 33 state and territorial attorneys general to Congress to ban the devices.
The state is not alone in its regulatory expansion targeting bump stocks. Down the Eastern Seaboard in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie signed a ban in that state earlier this week which went into effect immediately. Bump stock owners in the Garden State have 90 days to surrender their once unregulated accessories or face as much as three to five years in prison.
1/17/18 | by Chris Eger
2017 IN REVIEW: THE GUN INDUSTRY RECALIBRATES
The gun industry took a few blows in 2017 as manufacturers and retailers alike endured slumping demand post-election. Share prices bounced, company leaders stepped down and legacy brands closed up shop – divesting fear-based advertising tactics in favor of promotions.
With the new way forward for gun makers uncertain, Guns.com takes a look back at the year that was for publicly traded companies across the industry.
Smith & Wesson/American Outdoor Brands
Legacy handgun manufacturer Smith & Wesson started off its most recent fiscal year standing in one pretty tall shadow.
After reporting record-breaking sales just shy of $1 billion last year – the industry’s biggest on record for background checks and, by proxy, gun sales – Smith & Wesson’s holding company, American Outdoor Brands, anticipated a post-election slow down would decrease annual earnings by as much as 17 percent.
So when the first quarter ended July 31 with $2.2 million loss, investors seemed unphased. With revenues down by as much as half in its firearms sector, top executives revised AOBC’s annual sales in 2018 down to no more than $740 million.
Three months later, sales tanked 36 percent over 2016. Market analysts described the company’s second quarter results as a “sobering up” for the industry – evidence the promotional environment would stick around far longer than anyone anticipated, forcing everyone, Smith & Wesson included, to compete.
“Is it resetting itself at any level? It’s just not clear yet, there is a lot of noise out there,” CEO James Debney said Dec. 7. “I mean, nobody of any scale — and those are really the ones that we pay attention to — has gone away. Everybody is still in business. Some that publish their results, you can see they’re not doing so well. How long they can sustain themselves, we just don’t know.”
Most recent forecasted annual sales shrank to $650 million. The dwindling projections came amidst the resignation of Matt Buckingham, president of Smith & Wesson’s Firearms Division, on Black Friday – when background checks set a record pace of more than 203,000 processed on a single day.
Buckingham stepped down from his position effective Dec. 8 “to pursue other interests.” Debney will fulfill his duties in lieu of a replacement.
Share prices for AOBC fluctuated all year long, reaching a high of $24.45 in July – just after news of the company’s record-breaking fiscal year broke. As of Dec. 29, the gun makers stock fell by almost half to just under $13 a share.
Vista Outdoor started off 2017 from behind. It’s fourth quarter 2016 ended March 31 with sales down 12 percent – a symptom then-CEO Mark DeYoung described as a “temporary lull” in the shooting sports industry.
Vista owns more than three dozen companies in firearms, ammunition and shooting accessories, including Savage Arms, Stevens, Federal Premium, Speer and American Eagle. It also holds brands in the outdoor lifestyle market.
That self-described lull gave way to double digit sales declines in Vista’s first and second quarters – ending July 2 and Oct. 28, respectively – and the ouster of not one, but two top executives at the company: DeYoung, himself, and Chief Financial Officer Stephen Nolan, who will step down as of Feb. 1, 2018.
DeYoung headed for early retirement in July while his replacement, Chris Metz – former CEO of Arctic Cat, a Minnesota-based snow mobile and all-terrain vehicle manufacturer – wasted no time reshaping the company’s footprint and leadership.
He first announced the elimination of Shooting Sports Segment President Bob Keller’s position “to allow its business leaders to drive changes faster and have clear line of sight to the goals at hand.”
Vista’s President of Firearms Al Kasper and President of Ammunition Jason Vanderbrink will lead the company’s shooting sports segment in Keller’s absence, Metz said.
“While I’ve only been here a short time, I realize we have much to do: we must make significant changes, act decisively, and move quickly to reposition and stabilize the company,” he told investors last month. “We will take an aggressive position on profit improvement through both margin expansion and cost reductions across all areas of the core business.”
The reduction includes divesting three brands in the company’s sports protection business: Bollé, Serengeti and Cébé.
“These brands were acquired as part of the Bushnell transaction in 2013 and focus primarily on fashion, prescription and safety eyewear, which are areas that we have determined are not core to our business,” Metz said. “The sale of these brands is expected to take place over the next few quarters.”
Vista anticipates its 2018 sales will not exceed $2.26 billion — a 2 percent reduction over first quarter guidance.
Stock prices from Jan. 1, 2017 plummeted from just under $40 per share to $14.96 as of Dec. 29 – up from the one-year low of just over $13 last month.
Sturm, Ruger and Co.
Even Sturm, Ruger and Co. – considered by many market analysts the strongest performer of the publicly traded gun makers so far this year – can’t escape the long shadow 2016 cast over the industry.
CEO Chris Killoy told investors last month the 53 percent decline in net profits — and the rest of Ruger’s financial statement, for that matter — proved just how “challenging” the third quarter was for the company, with little reprieve in sight.
“We offered more promotions that were moderately more aggressive than last year, but we did not chase our competitors’ offerings to achieve better short-term results,” he said. “We will continue to take a measured and thoughtful approach to sales promotions and rebate opportunities considering both the short-term benefits and the potential longer term implications both financial and reputational.”
The dismal results come after a strong first quarter for the company, which reported $167.4 million in sales — a 3 percent decline over first quarter 2016. Sales fell more than 35 percent to $104.8 million in the third quarter ending on Sept. 30, according to the company’s earnings reports. Second quarter sales likewise plummeted 22 percent. Overall, Ruger’s gun sales trail last year by nearly 20 percent.
Killoy told shareholders in May the company “has a consistent game plan” in good times and bad and expressed certainty the market would continue to fluctuate.
“The seasonality of our industry is very well defined, very well predicted and pretty much understood by those of us in the business,” he said. “Frankly, from a percentage standpoint, people have talked about the change in the firearms market since the November election, I think it would fair in saying the demise of the firearms industry was likely greatly exaggerated.”
“That first quarter, however, was not without it’s struggles. It was a very promotionally charged environment,” he added.
He cited “aggressive price discounting and lucrative consumer rebates offered by many of our competitors” as a continuing factor in Ruger’s second quarter decline.
“But our strategy is I think you know anticipate this type of downturn in the market and it’s a volatile inventory,” he told investors in August. “It’s not all gloom and doom. To their credit, retailers are healthier than they were a few months ago. Many had increased inventories in anticipation of a surge in demand following the elections last November. When that surge didn’t materialize, it’s understandable they took a deep breath and let their inventories decrease.”
Unit sell-through from independent distributors decreased by 16 percent in quarter three, Killoy said, mimicking a 10 percent decline in National Instant Criminal Background Check System applications during the same time frame. The industry uses NICS as a barometer for sales and the gun market’s overall health, although the measurement isn’t exact.
“We think there is a lot of good signs out there for us,” Killoy said, citing a growing, diversifying pool of gun owners. “We have to manage our way through this tough market we’re in right now, but with the new products that we have teed up and some of the things that are still on the drawing board, I like our chances better than the competition to be honest with you.”
Per Killoy’s forecast, Ruger’s stock bounced by more than $20 a share throughout the year — reaching a high of more than $68 in July before falling to just under $46 two months later, the 2017 low.
Gun makers weren’t the only ones facing a new, unfamiliar reality in 2017. Some of the big box stores made major moves, forever changing the retail landscape for the gun industry.
In September, two iconic outdoor retailers — Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s — became one after finalizing a multi-billion merger initiated in late 2016. With a combined 176 locations across the United States and Canada, the united chains will advance “key conservation initiatives,” CEO Johnny Morris said.
What will become of the 2,000 employees based at the Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney, Nebraska — about six hours west of Omaha — remains a question mark. The retailer employs more than a quarter of the town’s nearly 7,000 residents and economists have warned job cuts will come, but likely not at the store level.
Cabela’s laid off 70 employees in March, though Morris said he wants to retain “a significant presence” in Sidney.
Last year also saw the end of Gander Mountain in August when 162 locations nationwide closed their doors for good after a months-long liquidation sale ended.
Only 57 locations will re-opoen as Gander Outdoors, the re-branded effort led by Camping World CEO and star of “The Profit” Marcus Lemonis.
Gander Mountain, the brainchild of Robert Sturgis, an avid outdoorsman from rural Wisconsin, began in 1960 as a mail-order catalog for other shooting sport enthusiasts. After a 1968 federal law prohibited catalog sales of firearms, Sturgis grew the business to include camping and fishing gear.
Over the years, Gander moved headquarters to Minnesota and, by 2012, had branded itself as “America’s Firearms Superstore,” embarking on an aggressive expansion campaign to open 60 new locations across the country — a move Lemonis said ultimately led to the company’s downfall.
“I spent a day talking to a number of store managers and customers who have said that the current most recent management at Gander got really away from its core customer and really bet a $100 million on guns and was wrong,” he told investors in May. “Terrible, terrible inventory, terrible overhead, and candidly they didn’t need 160 stores.”
Gander Mountain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in Minnesota court on March 10, indicating its intention to shutter 32 stores in 11 states and liquidate more than $500 million worth of assets.
Camping World, the nation’s largest recreational vehicle dealer, led the investor group that bought out $390 million worth of Gander Mountain assets, including its Overtons boating business, during an April 28 auction for $38 million.
In the weeks following, Lemonis changed the company’s name to Gander Outdoors, crowd-sourced a new logo and maintained an evolving list of surviving locations — down to 57 from a planned 70 — on his Twitter account. Meanwhile, the newly-branded company announced a slew of new product offerings designed to deliver on Lemonis’s promise to offer a larger assortment of guns at better prices.
The first of the reogranized stores opened Dec. 13 in Lakeville, Minnesota. Lemonis said he will open more than a dozen new stores through March 2018, with another 20 or 25 locations to follow through the end of September.
1/02/18 | by Christen Smith
BIDEN MEETS WITH GUN ‘STAKEHOLDERS’ AS ‘CIVIL’ SELL-OUTS BEGIN
January 10, 2013
By: David Codrea
Joe Biden is meeting throughout the day “with advocates for sportsmen and women and wildlife interest groups as part of the Administration’s effort to develop policy proposals in response to the tragedy in Newtown, the Vice President’s schedule announced today. Among groups known in advance to be attending one of today’s meetings are the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Today’s series of meetings include a different set of what the administration calls “stakeholders.” Yesterday, the Vice President and Attorney General Eric Holder met with what they referred to as “gun safety groups” (even though the organizations in question are not qualified and do not teach gun safety, but rather, are committed gun prohibitionists) and “victims and survivors.”
Likewise, today’s meeting will raise concerns about more than terminology. What gun rights activists will find especially troubling is the premise of the meeting, noting the Second Amendment has nothing to do with sports or wildlife, and particularly noting the disturbing origins of the premise that it does. A true meeting of “stakeholders” would include representatives for those who believe in the unbending of the Founders’ intent for the Second Amendment, who know that it is necessary for the security of a free state, that it shall not be infringed, and who won’t stand for being scapegoated or for citizen disarmament edicts imposed by those who would try.
Meetings and attendees for today, including representatives for retailers and the entertainment industry, were conveyed by a White House official through Michael Scherer of TIME, acting on behalf of the press pool, and include:
11:45 AM: Sportsmen and Women and Wildlife Interest Groups:
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Blue Water Strategies
Bull Moose Sportsmen's Alliance Action Fund
Outdoor Industry Association
Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Wildlife Management Institute
1:45 PM: Gun Owners’ Groups:
Defense Small Arms Advisory Council (DSAAC.)
Firearms Import/Export Roundtable
Independent Firearm Owners Association (IFoA)
National Rifle Association of America
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Association of Arms Shows
6:00 PM: Representatives from the Entertainment Industry:
Directors Guild of America
Film & Television Alliance
Motion Picture Association of America
National Association of Broadcasters
National Association of Theatre Owners
National Cable and Telecommunications Association
Supplied by the Justice Department:
Today, at 3:15 the Attorney General will meet with retailers as part of the ongoing gun violence sessions being held at the White House by Vice President Biden.
Below is a list of the retailers who will be attendance.
Academy Sports + Outdoors
Bass Pro Shops
Big 5 Sporting Goods
Dick's Sporting Goods
National Retail Federation – (awaiting confirmation)
There are many concerns this list raises, including what else a company like Dick’s is willing to preemptively surrender to further alienate customers who don’t go there for the sport of it.
Also of concern: The attendance of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, headed by Richard Feldman, once a lawyer representing the gun industry who spearheaded the last industry surrender to the White House, and went on to author an expose of his former allies. Who and exactly how many they purport to represent is somewhat of a mystery, but we do know they portray themselves as "moderates," include "a number of retired law enforcement officers" on their board, and boast "There are 15 million self-identified liberals that own guns -- that's four times the size of the NRA."
Last night, Gun Rights Examiner obtained a “boycotted” copy of an IFoA press statement, not authorized for release until 1 p.m., that is, exactly as this is being typed. The complete statement has now been posted on the organization’s website. Aside from calling for “a return to public civility,” it includes a series of measures presented as needed to fight crime, with dangerous concessions made on two fronts.
“Let’s agree that we are united in opposition to the misuse of firearms, especially the access of guns to criminals and mentally unstable individuals,” it recommends, making no mention of how due process will be ensured for the “unstable” so that innocence is presumed as opposed to having to be proven. As Gun Rights Examiner pointed out on Monday, “reforms” in this area could create a blanket dragnet for gun rights disabilities.
“Let’s agree to require the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) at gun shows,” the release further advocates. “NRA’s Wayne LaPierre supported this to Congress back in May 1999. Our proposal is called the Gun Show Preservation and Protection Act of 2013.”
In other words, end the practice of allowing private sellers to attend gun shows.
The IFOA does not explain what it believes ending private sales at gun shows will accomplish, and why, if they think it will reduce violent crime, they have not also called for ending private sales everywhere, and if that will be a concession they intend to make at some later point once this beachhead has been secured. Nor do they explain how this “agreement” squares with delegated enumerated powers of either Congress or the Executive branch under the Constitution, nor if either the Second or Tenth Amendments should be consulted before agreeing to anything.
Nor do they indicate how, with anti-gunners snarling for viscera, civilly throwing them a scrap and giving them a taste of flesh will do anything but encourage the ravenous pack to close in for more.
If NRA and NSSF join in with this divide-and-conquer preemptive surrender, and show anything but strength, gun owners will have an internal problem to resolve when they should instead be working together toward the victory it is within their power to achieve.
UPDATE: The following information just came in from the reporting pool immediately after this article was published and is quoted below:
The VP said he would give POTUS recommendations by Tuesday. "I have committed to him that I will have the recommendations to him by Tuesday."
He mentioned several recommendations to deal with guns that he said he had heard repeatedly from stakeholders. This included what he called "universal background checks, not just closing the gumshoe* loophole." He also mentioned a call do deal with high capacity magazines. And he said, "The last area is the whole subject of the ability of any federal agency to do research on gun violence."
He compared the current limits on federal data gathering with the 1970s restrictions on federal research over the cause of traffic fatalities. He said there was a need to gather information on "what kind of weapons are used most to kill people" and "what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons."
He described his own personal relationship with guns as "an owner of shotguns--I'm no great hunter, it's mostly skeet shooting for me."
He said he was still hoping to have a conference call with gun manufacturers. "There has got to be some common ground, to not solve every problem but diminish the probability" of future mass shootings. "That's what this is all about. There are no conclusions I have reached."
He referred to Newtown, saying, "there is nothing that has pricked the consciousness of the American people" as the image of "little six-year-olds riddled ... with bullet holes in their class."
* "Gumshoe loophole" is a perfect example of "Authorized Journalists" acting as subject matter authorities. Maybe Biden really said it, though. A transcript is said to be forthcoming.
UPDATE: Dave Workman says "The ‘fix’ was in; NRA ‘disappointed’ at meeting."
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