AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File
Most in the firearm industry admit that the election of President Donald Trump was the best case scenario for them in 2016. While a win by Hillary Clinton would likely have spurred additional sales, the firearm industry would have been under constant assault. With a Trump win, they could rest easy for at least four years, relatively secure as they moved forward.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the Trump victory didn’t come at a cost.
With less perceived pressure on the firearm industry and a president who seems unlikely to sign gun control regulations, the firearm industry has hit a low point in sales after eight years of boom times under the Obama administration.
Again, most would agree this is ultimately better, but it’s not like there isn’t a downside here. For example, some companies aren’t going to get enough sales to thrive.
One distributor recently filed for bankruptcy.
United Sporting Cos, a large firearms distributor whose roots date to the Great Depression, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday and said it plans to liquidate, hurt by falling sales after President Donald Trump was elected and as Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc began moving away from firearms.
The company, whose units including Ellett Brothers serve 20,000 retailers in all 50 states, said other reasons for its Chapter 11 filing were too much debt and discounting caused by excess inventory. It also cited “significant” disruptions in outdoor retailing such as Bass Pro Shops’ 2017 purchase of Cabela’s and Gander Mountain’s bankruptcy.
It said hurricanes in the southeast United States, which generates a large portion of the Chapin, South Carolina-based company’s sales, also reduced demand. USC carries such brands as Glock, Remington, Ruger and Smith & Wesson.
In a court filing, Chief Executive Officer Bradley Johnson said USC boosted inventory before the 2016 White House race, expecting the higher sales that historically follow a Democrat’s election.
In fairness, that was a Democratic victory we were assured would happen. The media harped on how Clinton was a slam dunk and the election was merely a formality. She didn’t even write a concession speech.
With that in mind, why would anyone have stocked inventory in any other way?
The problem is that Clinton didn’t win and people weren’t rushing to the gun store to try and get a firearm before a Democrat outlawed everything under the sun. USC, among others, had tons of inventory and no customers for all of it. I don’t care what business you’re in, that’s a bad spot to find yourself.
Hopefully, USC can dig its way out of this and proceed stronger than ever. The truth is, for the Second Amendment to thrive in this country, we need a thriving firearm industry. The right to keep and bear arms means nothing if we don’t have access to firearms. Distributors are part of that chain. One failing can reduce competition, and prices can rise for all of us.
So yeah, I hope USC can pull through this. I also hope we can figure out some balance that increases demand for firearms without needing to live under a Sword of Damocles when it comes to our gun rights. That, ultimately, is good for everyone as well.