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Yesterday, Remington Outdoor Company, the oldest gun company in the United States, filed for bankruptcy.
Along with over $1 billion in debt, the 200-year-old company saw sales tumble to $603 million last year, which is reportedly half of what it was netting in 2013.
It might seem logical to peg Remington’s business struggles to the nation’s current roaring debate surrounding gun control. It was only this past weekend that hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March for Our Lives, the student-led demonstration for gun control that took place in Washington D.C. and 800 other cities across the world. Remington is also the company that made the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and several relatives of the deceased students have filed a lawsuit against the company. But Remington’s biggest business adversary as of late is also someone it considers an ally: Donald Trump.
As someone who campaigned as a “true friend” of the gun lobby, Trump is nevertheless part of the reason Remington’s sales took a major hit after the election. Gun enthusiasts have taken a back seat to buying guns because Trump is in office, a phenomenon dubbed “the Trump slump.” This is a pattern in which gun sales rise under a Democratic president, with shoppers fearing stricter gun controls, while dropping under a Republican president.
Now, with the assurance that the president is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, gun shops have more product than shoppers, and the industry as a whole is hurting. Gun manufacturing companies like Association American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger have seen slumping sales too, and retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have stopped the sale of assault-style rifles all together. This is in stark contract to gun sales during Barack Obama’s presidency, which surged. Even Hillary Clinton’s campaign correlated positively with firearm sales, with voters afraid that she would change gun laws if elected.
Going forward, if people aren’t opening their wallets to buy guns, businesses are going to have to think differently if they don’t want to head in the direction of Remington. The gun accessories industry is lucrative and growing, although the idea for gun-slinging yoga pants has already been taken.