Gun Stocks Climb After Las Vegas Shooting

Heightened fear after mass shootings often leads to more gun sales.

On Monday, just after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, gunmakers saw a boom in their stock prices: American Outdoor Brands Corp. (previously Smith & Wesson), Sturm, Ruger & Co., and Vista Outdoor climbed by 2.3 percent, 3.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, in morning trade, according to MarketWatch.

Gun shares often rise immediately after a mass shooting. In fact, American Outdoor Brands has repeatedly told investors that “speculation surrounding increased gun control at the federal, state, and local level and heightened fears of terrorism and crime” affects demand.

Gunmakers made millions after the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut; San Bernardino, California; and Orlando, Florida. The motive is fairly clear: When people get scared, they look for and buy things (e.g., guns) to protect themselves. One study in California found that handgun sales after a mass tragedy, at least in one case, spiked even more among people who lived close to the event.

Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Overall, since the election, gun sales have actually been on the decline. American Outdoor’s stock had fallen 46 percent since the election (as of Friday) while Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s stock fell 20 percent and Vista Outdoor’s stock dropped 40 percent.

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