BUSINESS

Gun Stocks Are Up Sharply. You Know Why.

"The No. 1 driver of firearms sales is fear," one analyst has said.

Gun stocks trended sharply higher Monday morning, a day after the deadliest mass shooting in American history killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando. 

Given the increased frequency of these types of attacks, at this point, the sad correlation between mass shootings and gun manufacturers' stock prices surprises no one -- not even the gun manufacturers themselves.

AR-15 rifles are displayed at the NRA annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 20, 2016. On Sunday, a shooter
AR-15 rifles are displayed at the NRA annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 20, 2016. On Sunday, a shooter in Orlando used an AR-15 to kill 49 and wound 53 more.

In a letter to shareholders early last month, Sturm, Ruger & Co. CEO Michael Fifer noted a "significant spike in demand" that "was strongly correlated to the tragic, terrorist events in Paris and San Bernardino."

A shooting early last December at a social services center in San Bernardino, California, left 14 dead and 21 wounded. A month earlier, terrorists in Paris killed 130 people and injured hundreds in coordinated attacks.

"[In the past decade] there have been some significant ups and downs in demand, as political rhetoric and threats have spurred demand above the underlying normal rate of demand," Fifer wrote. "These spikes in demand have been followed by periods when demand retreated as the threats to gun rights failed to materialize to the degree that caused the spike in the first place."

True to form, in trading Monday, Sturm, Ruger & Co. was up 8.6 percent:

Smith & Wesson also jumped in early trading, opening up 10 percent before relinquishing some of the gains as the day continued:

"The No. 1 driver of firearms sales is fear," Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, told Bloomberg in December, after the San Bernardino shooting. “Primarily, fear of registration restrictions, banning and things like that.”

Ruttenbur added that people may also fear for their personal safety.

Apparently that fear has become a dominant force. There are more guns in America than there are Americans.

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