Florida Went Gun Shopping After the Parkland Shooting

By Polly MosendzPolly Mosendz and Mira RojanasakulMira Rojanasakul

It was a busy February for gun sales in Florida.

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a barometer for gun purchases, shows that in February checks for sales in Florida were up 3.5 percent year over year. There was a 12.6 percent increase in long guns, a category that includes assault rifles like the one used in the school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. Nationwide, long-gun checks were up 3 percent.

Long Gun Sales Leap in Florida After Parkland School Killings

FBI long gun background checks, year-over-year percent change

50

%

Background

checks rose

sharply after

Sandy Hook

40

30

20

Feb. 2018

+12.6%

YoY change

10

0

–10

–20

Feb.

2000

Feb.

2002

Feb.

2004

Feb.

2006

Feb.

2008

Feb.

2010

Feb.

2012

Feb.

2014

Feb.

2016

Feb.

2018

50

%

Background

checks rose

sharply after

Sandy Hook

40

30

Feb. 2018

+12.6%

YoY change

20

10

0

–10

–20

Feb.

2000

Feb.

2004

Feb.

2008

Feb.

2012

Feb.

2016

50

%

Background checks

rose sharply

after Sandy Hook

40

Feb. 2018

+12.6%

YoY change

30

20

10

0

–10

–20

Feb.

2018

Feb.

2000

Data: FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System

Under President Donald Trump, the firearms industry has seen stocks fall and sales slow as buying based on political fear appeared to be a thing of the past. But the killings in Florida have been followed by the strongest push for gun control in years.

The new statistics "beg the question: Is fear-based buying back? Given all the recent headlines and rhetoric, we would argue yes, for the moment," wrote KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Brett Andress.

As politicians consider how and whether to rein in guns, companies already are acting. The nation’s largest retailer, Walmart Inc., and a unit of the largest supermarket chain, Kroger Co., each raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21. So did L.L.Bean Inc., which sells guns at its flagship store in Maine. Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. said last week it would no longer sell assault rifles in its Field & Stream stores.

Last month, 2.3 million NICS checks were run nationwide for events including sales of long guns and hand guns, other weapons and components, and license renewals. Despite the surge in long gun checks, NICS data was relatively flat year over year.

A History of Gun Sales After Mass Shootings

June 2016

Orlando

Oct. 2017

Las Vegas

Dec. 2012

Sandy Hook

Dec. 2015

San Bernardino

Feb. 2018

Parkland

July 2012

Aurora

June 2015

Charleston

1.5

M

Jan. 2011

Tucson

Nov. 2009

Fort Hood

1.0

April 1999

Columbine

April 2007

Virginia Tech

0.5

Total Federal Background Checks

(Seasonally adjusted)

0

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

Sep. 2001

9/11

Nov. 2008

Obama elected

Nov. 2016

Trump elected

June 2016

Orlando

Dec. 2012

Sandy Hook

Dec. 2015

San Bernardino

July 2012

Aurora

Feb. 2018

Parkland

June 2015

Charleston

Oct. 2017

Las Vegas

April 2007

Virginia Tech

1.5

M

Jan. 2011

Tucson

Nov. 2009

Fort Hood

April 1999

Columbine

1.0

0.5

Total Federal Background Checks

(Seasonally adjusted)

0

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

Sep. 2001

9/11

Nov. 2008

Obama elected

Nov. 2016

Trump elected

Oct. 2017

Las Vegas

Dec. 2012

Sandy Hook

June 2016

Orlando

Dec. 2015

San Bernardino

June 2015

Charleston

Jan. 2011

Tucson

Feb. 2018

Parkland

April 2007

Virginia Tech

1.5

M

Nov. 2009

Fort Hood

April 1999

Columbine

1.0

0.5

Total Federal Background Checks

(Seasonally adjusted)

0

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

2018

Sep. 2001

9/11

Nov. 2008

Obama elected

Nov. 2016

Trump elected

Oct. 2017

Las Vegas

Dec. 2012

Sandy Hook

June 2016

Orlando

Dec. 2015

San Bernardino

Jan. 2011

Tucson

Feb. 2018

Parkland

April 2007

Virginia Tech

1.5

M

Nov. 2009

Fort Hood

April 1999

Columbine

1.0

0.5

Total Federal Background Checks

(Seasonally adjusted)

0

2000

2004

2008

2012

2016

Sep. 2001

9/11

Nov. 2008

Obama elected

Nov. 2016

Trump elected

Data: FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System

During President Barack Obama's administration, it was common to see a run on guns following a mass shooting set off by fear of bodily harm and increased regulations. In turn, the stocks of publicly traded firearms and ammunition companies tended to rally.

This trend has slowed under Trump, and after October's mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern American history, there was little impact. Indeed, under Trump stock prices of publicly traded firearms companies have suffered.

Daily close

American Outdoor Brands

(formerly Smith & Wesson)

$

30

20

10

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Daily close

Sturm Ruger & Co.

$

80

60

40

20

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Data: Bloomberg

Daily close

American Outdoor Brands

(formerly Smith & Wesson)

$

30

20

10

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Daily close

Sturm Ruger & Co.

$

80

60

40

20

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Data: Bloomberg

American Outdoor Brands

(formerly Smith & Wesson)

Daily close

$

30

20

10

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2018

Sturm Ruger & Co.

Daily close

$

80

60

40

20

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2018

Data: Bloomberg

Daily close

American Outdoor Brands

(formerly Smith & Wesson)

$

30

20

10

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Daily close

Sturm Ruger & Co.

$

80

60

40

20

Bush

Obama

Trump

0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Data: Bloomberg

Consumer demand is falling to “new, lower levels,” James Debney, chief executive officer of American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, said during an earnings call last week. “We will operate our business under the assumption that the next 12 to 18 months could deliver flattish revenues.”

American Outdoor Brands Has Fallen 64% Since Trump’s Election

Daily close

Trump Elected

$

30

20

10

0

2017

2018

Nov. 8

2016

Jan.

2017

April

2017

July

2017

Oct.

2017

Jan.

2018

March 5

2018

American Outdoor Brands Has Fallen 64%

Since Trump’s Election

Daily close

Trump Elected

$

30

20

10

0

2017

2018

Nov. 8

2016

Jan.

2017

April

2017

July

2017

Oct.

2017

Jan.

2018

March 5

2018

American Outdoor Brands Has Fallen 64%

Since Trump’s Election

Daily close

Trump Elected

$

30

20

10

0

Nov. 8

2016

March 5

2018

Beyond Florida, 18 other states saw gun sales go up, including those in which politicians were debating state-level firearms regulation.

"February’s uptick, particularly with respect to long guns, is yet another example of the historical trend following the re-ignition of the gun control debate," analyst James Hardiman of Wedbush wrote in a note.

While fear-based buying might be re-emerging, actual fear of gun control may be for naught. With a Republican-led Congress and White House, its unlikely that a firearms regulation bill would be passed. Though the president met with lawmakers last week to discuss gun control, he later met with National Rifle Association lobbyists and seemed to pull back from some measures he had just endorsed, such as raising the firearms purchasing age to 21 nationally. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would focus on a banking bill this week, rather than on gun regulation.