One of the perverse realities of mass shootings in America is that there are not just losers, to coin one of President Donald Trump’s favourite words — those who are killed, their families, friends and communities — but also winners. One of them, historically, has been the National Rifle Association, which typically sees a surge in membership and donations following mass shootings. And among the others have been gun companies, in the sense that their stock prices have tended to rise in the wake of highly publicized and tragic shootings.
The market dynamics behind the boost gun company stocks get after mass shootings have been as clear as they are depressing. Amid calls from victims, gun control advocates and some politicians for restrictions on firearms ownership, investors anticipate that gun buyers will scramble to purchase weapons. Stock prices go up.
You would expect that pattern to be repeated in the wake of the shooting two weeks ago at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 people with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Like others before it, that crime has stirred mass outpourings of grief and anger, and calls for meaningful gun control legislation from activists and victims. Corporate America has also responded, with many companies vowing to end discounts it used to offer to NRA members. Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of America’s biggest sports retailers, on Wednesday announced that it would no longer sell semi-automatic rifles in its Field & Stream outlets, and Dick’s stock rose marginally following the news.