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Gun Sales Slump Since Trump’s Election

11 March, 2018

Gun store owners say they are selling fewer guns since the 2016 presidential election. Some are calling the drop a "Trump slump."

Sales of guns slowed after Donald Trump was elected president, ending fears that a Democratic president would strengthen guns laws.

That trend has continued in recent weeks.

Lawmakers in Congress and some business leaders are discussing new gun laws after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school on February 14.

In past years, mass killings by gunmen have caused an increase in gun sales. Observers think this could be because people were worried about new government restrictions on gun ownership. But things are different after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

"The day after the election, it's just like somebody turned a faucet off," said David Dobransky. The 67-year-old owns Dobransky Firearms, a small gun shop in North Canton, Ohio.

Since the election, sales there have been cut in half. Nothing the president or Congress has done or said following the Florida shooting has helped business.

Gun owners believe that Trump will not increase restrictions, gun show owners say. That is the case even with the conflicting messages Trump has sent about gun laws in recent weeks.

FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA Leadership Forum, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta.
FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association-ILA Leadership Forum, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta.

Trump has described himself as a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association, or NRA. But, Trump criticized lawmakers last week for being too fearful of the gun rights group to take action. He also announced support for positions that the NRA opposes, such as banning gun sales to people under 21.

Soon afterward, Trump met with NRA officials and tweeted they had a "Good (Great) meeting."

The NRA's executive director, tweeting about the same meeting, said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence "don't want gun control."

At Rapid-Fire Firearms in Rapid City, South Dakota, business is "just like normal," said owner Robert Akers. He said there was no panic buying that seemed to take place under President Barack Obama.

American Outdoor Brands says its sales are down. The company, which owns gun maker Smith & Wesson, told investors in a conference call recently that revenue fell by one-third over the past three months. That amount is similar to the overall drop since Trump was elected, the Associated Press reports.

Stock prices for gun sellers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands also have fallen since Trump was elected. The companies have mostly reported poor sales in recent months.

Four large retailers announced new restrictions on their gun sales last week. Kroger, Dick's Sporting Goods, L.L. Bean and Walmart said that they will no longer sell guns to anyone under the age of 21.

Also, outdoor retailer REI says it is ending future orders of some popular product brands. The company says it is doing so because the parent company that makes the brands also makes assault-style rifles.

Over the past 30 years, U.S. gun production has tripled. Nine million guns were produced in 2015, compared with 3 million in 1986. Those numbers come from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a government agency.

The U.S. also imports millions of guns every year.

At Duke's Sport Shop in New Castle, Pennsylvania, gun sales have risen in recent days. But store owner Wes Morosky said that is because of yearly tax refund checks.

The family-owned business started by Morosky's father, Duke, has about 2,000 firearms available at any one time, including the AR-15. That is the assault-style rifle used in the Florida shooting. It is the subject of a new debate about a gun bans.

Morosky said the store had a hard time keeping the guns in stock after deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012. He said there were fears that the Obama administration would ban assault rifles.

"Generally, people are still comfortable with the government that's intact right now," Morosky said.

I'm Jonathan Evans. And I'm Susan Shand.

Susan Shand adapted this story for Learning English based on a story by the Associated Press. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

Slump – n. a sudden decrease in prices, value, amount, etc.

Trend – n. a general direction of change

Faucet – n. a device that is used to control the flow of water from a pipe

Panic – n. a state or feeling of extreme fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally

Revenue – n. money that is made by or paid to a business or an organization

Retailer – n. a person or business that sells things directly to customers for their own use

Assault-style riflen. an automatic or semi-automatic gun