Manufacturer reports “unprecedented” drop in demand for guns since Pres. Trump election

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — A company that makes guns and ammunition is blaming the election for an “unprecedented” drop in demand.

The gun and ammo industries have suffered declining sales since the election of President Donald Trump, and the language from Vista Outdoor in its earnings report is some of the most dramatic yet.

Gun sales had thrived under the Obama administration and during Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Gun enthusiasts feared the Democratic leaders would impose stricter gun control laws. With President Trump in the White House and Republicans running Congress, that threat has vanished, and sales are suffering.

Vista reported a 5% decline in sales and a 28% plunge in profit in the first three months of the year. The company said sales in its shooting sports category had dropped by double digits, and it expects sales in .223-caliber ammo, used in AR-15s, to be poor for months to come.

In an earnings statement on Thursday, Vista CEO Mark DeYoung cited an “unprecedented decline in demand for ammunition and firearms following the presidential election,” plus “softness” in retail stores. He said the company would ramp up online to try to reverse the decline.

Vista owns 50 brands, including Savage Arms, which makes a variety of guns, including military-style semiautomatic rifles, and the ammo brands Federal Premium Ammunition, Estate Cartridge, American Eagle, Speer Ammo, Blazer and CCI.

The company also owns Bushnell, which makes binoculars and gun scopes, Bushnell Golf, which makes golf course rangefinders, and Bollé, which makes sunglasses and ski goggles.

Another gun company, Sturm Ruger, reported on Tuesday that retailers have a glut of inventory in modern sporting rifles, also known as assault rifles or AR-15s, because retailers stockpiled them before Election Day, expecting Clinton to win.

Another gun company, Smith & Wesson, has been expanding into non-gun outdoor products like tree saws and survival gear and changed its name last year to American Outdoor Brands.