The One Economic Sector That Has Benefited From Obama
A little more than a decade ago, the domestic firearms industry was staggering like a villain on the wrong side of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum. “The future has never been more uncertain for America’s oldest manufacturing industry,” a Businessweek cover story reported in 1999. Flat sales, the specter of more stringent regulation, and dozens of lawsuits filed by cities and counties seeking damages for the costs associated with gun violence threatened to destroy a uniquely American business. U.S. companies were going bankrupt, foreign competitors were claiming a bigger piece of the action, and even industry executives were expecting the market to “steadily shrink over the long term.”
Yet here it is, 13 years later, well into America’s great manufacturing exodus and the post-financial-crisis economic slump, and the domestic firearms industry is enjoying near-record productivity. According to Smith & Wesson, one of just two U.S. gun manufacturers that are publicly traded and thus publish their sales figures, the company ended its 2011 fiscal year with a backlog of $187 million in orders after enjoying “record fourth quarter sales and units shipped.” Meanwhile, Sturm, Ruger & Co. is on a quest to become the first U.S. gun manufacturer to build and ship 1 million units in a single year. In May 2011, the company announced its intention to donate $1 to the National Rifle Association (NRA) for every firearm it sold from April 2011 through March 2012. At the end of nine months, in January 2012, it had donated $871,000 and seemed well on its way to meeting its goal.