With Colt announcing it’s suspending production of AR-15’s for the civilian market, there’s obviously a lot of concern among gun owners that this represents some sort of anti-gun move. According to Colt CEO Dennis Veilleux in his statement announcing the suspension of rifle production for the civilian market, the move is a financial one, not any signal of support for gun control, and the industry officials I’ve spoken with say that is indeed the case.
One individual in the firearms industry, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me that Colt is “not pulling a Wal-Mart or a Dick’s”, but that they’re simply trying to stay healthy financially, noting that Colt’s price point for AR-15’s puts them in competition with higher-end manufacturers like Daniel Defense.
Others in the industry say they wouldn’t be surprised to see Colt re-enter the civilian market at some point in the future, though they couldn’t predict when that might be. Veilleux certainly left that door wide open in his statement, noting “at the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change.”
Unfortunately, some media outlets like ABC News are intent on trying to shoehorn this decision into a broader anti-gun narrative.
Colt says it will stop producing the AR-15 for the consumer market in the wake of many recent mass shootings. https://t.co/Gm5HK2g9gK
— ABC News (@ABC) September 19, 2019
There’s nothing in Veilleux’s statement to indicate that the decision by Colt has anything to do with the horrific crimes in Dayton and El Paso. In fact, there’s a lot in the statement by Colt’s CEO to indicate otherwise.
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.
The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity. Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.
“We’re having a hard time competing in this robust market” isn’t exactly the clarion call for gun control that ABC News makes it out to be, but the media has its anti-gun narrative and ABC News is apparently going to stick to it. So will anti-gun candidates like Beto O’Rourke, who’s trying to turn this into some sort of anti-gun victory.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 19, 2019
As for the idea of more major manufacturers stepping away from production of AR-style rifles, none of the folks in the industry that I’ve spoke to say that’s a likely scenario. The possibility of some smaller companies succumbing to the crowded market isn’t out of the question, but overall the feeling among those I’ve spoken with today is that the industry is in good shape at the moment, and that yes, Beto O’Rourke is helping to drive up sales of AR-15’s and semi-automatic rifles, although we’re not looking at anything like the surge in gun sales that we saw when Barack Obama was elected president.
As one longtime industry insider put it, “Colt may be stepping away, but there are lots of other companies that are just gonna use that as an opportunity to try to step up.”