Colt’s Manufacturing Company said Thursday that it is suspending the production and sale of certain guns to civilian markets — including the AR-15, which has been at the center of a nationwide gun debate.
The West Hartford, Connecticut-based company said on its website that its decision was based on a lack of public demand in a market with enough sporting rifles. Colt’s rifles are considered more expensive than those of competitors, with prices starting at $1,000, according to American Military News.
“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” Colt CEO Dennis Veilleux said. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”
Veilleux said the gun-maker is still seeing high demand from the military and law enforcement, with which the company has contracts.
“Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles,” the CEO said.
Gun rights advocates criticized the company for distancing itself from the civilian market, according to The Associated Press.
Veilleux said the company still gives “unwavering” support to its civilian customers and is expanding its network of gun dealers to supply them with more 1911 handguns and revolvers. The CEO also stressed that firearm customers should not think the company is distancing itself from the Second Amendment.
“We want to assure you that Colt is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market,” Veilleux said.
March for our Lives, a student-led movement that advocates for gun control legislation, tweeted in favor of Colt’s decision to suspend AR-15 production.
“This is real life,” the group tweeted. “We’re winning.”
Colt’s decision comes as Congress continues to debate gun control and pressure gun manufacturers and dealers after a recent string of mass shootings that involved assault-style rifles. Lawmakers and 2020 candidates like former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke have called for bans and mandatory buybacks of such weapons.
Asked if he was in favor of gun confiscation, O’Rourke told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday: “When it comes to AR-15s and AK-47s, weapons designed for use on a military battlefield, the high-impact, high-velocity round that is fired from those weapons … the answer is yes.”
“I don’t want you or anyone else to get into the fear-mongering that some have fallen prey to, saying that the government is going to come and take all of your guns,” added the former congressman, whose hometown of El Paso, Texas, suffered a mass shooting at a Walmart last month. “What we are talking about exclusively is weapons of war that have no place in our homes, no place on our streets and should remain on the battlefield.”
Earlier this month, Walmart said it would stop selling short-barrel rifle and handgun ammunition in the U.S. The store also said it would stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only remaining state where it had sold them. Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault-style rifles last year and pulled hunting rifles from 125 of its stores this year.