Strum, Ruger & Co. CEO Mike Fifer presents National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre with a jumbo-sized check in January 2012. (Screenshot from YouTube.)
As President Obama announces a set of reforms to deal with gun violence in America, the gun lobby is mobilizing to defeat it. The gun industry-controlled advocacy group, the National Rifle Association, has a new ad accusing the president of being of a “hypocrite” for having armed security for his own family.
Meanwhile, gun manufacturers like Strum, Ruger & Co.—a Connecticut-based maker of rifles and pistols, and a major benefactor to the NRA, as I reported last month—have stepped up to provide direct advocacy.
The New Hampshire Business Review reports today that Ruger is now asking its customers to contact lawmakers to fight reform. Ruger has launched an advocacy section of its website, which reads: “Given the forces assembling against us, merely relying upon lobbying efforts is insufficient. Law-abiding firearms owners must stand up and be heard.”
Typically, gun and ammunition companies prefer to hide behind ideological groups like the NRA to pursue lobbying campaigns. But the stakes are apparently too high this time around.
The threat of gun control has been integral to the soaring profits of gun companies in recent years, since NRA-stoked fears of gun confiscation have sent a record number of Americans to the stores to purchase weapons. As Business Week noted, “Since Obama’s inauguration the [Ruger’s] stock price has risen more than 400 percent, making it a better investment than gold, which is up 113 percent.”
Yet, actual gun control laws are a direct hit to industry profits in the long haul. The dynamic is actually explained best by Ruger in a letter to shareholders in 2009 (emphasis added):
While some of the demand for our products is due to our successful launch of new products over the past 18 months, a substantial portion of the current demand appears to be based on two concerns: that the change in Federal administrations might lead to a so-called assault weapons ban, and general concerns over personal security and property protection as the economy worsens. It is uncertain how long these concerns will drive demand, and whether the demand will taper off slowly, or decline precipitously. There is some precedent from 1994, when similar concerns drove up demand for a period of time. It is important to note, however, that following the enactment of the 1994 assault weapons ban, demand declined significantly and quickly.
A graph charting the decline in gun sales after the assault weapons ban can be found here.
Politics has always been a big part of the gun lobby’s business model. From lobbying to nullify lawsuits against gun companies, to extracting huge tax subsidies from states, and of course quashing gun control laws and research into gun safety, the gun industry’s heightened activism extends far beyond the Second Amendment and well into concerns about quarterly profits.
That’s why Ruger’s CEO Mike Fifer—paid $4.51 million in fiscal year 2011—announced a deal to provide at least $1 dollar to the NRA with every new gun purchase over a year ago. It’s also why his company is now sidestepping the NRA and getting very political.
Business interests also recently ralllied against the Securities and Exchange Commission proposal to force publicly traded coroporations to disclose political spending, Lee Fang wrote in his last post.