By Dan Kidder
Sportsman’s News Managing Editor
Earlier this week, Colt manufacturing, the first mass producer of AR 15 rifles, announced in a notice to distributors that they would be suspending manufacturing of the popular modern sporting rifle for the consumer market.
Colt has a long and storied history of manufacturing a variety of firearms for the consumer market and made the AR 15 popular in that market long before the thousands of more recent manufacturers jumped into the game.
Once news reached the various gun bloggers, who took it as an affront and assault on the Second Amendment, the reaction was vile and vitriolic with many commenting that Colt has lost their business forever.
I think folks need to seriously take a deep breath and reconsider.
Colt has been plagued by a variety of issues, much of which is a result of market forces across the gun industry in general. Gun sales are down across the board, and even lower than they were prior to the mass panic buying during the previous presidential administration when gun owners feared sweeping gun control and a renewal of the Assault Weapons Act.
Another issue Colt has had to overcome is the high cost of production caused by manufacturing in tax-heavy Connecticut and operating a union shop. Unions don’t automatically make the cost of manufacturing more expensive, but it does burden Colt with an inability to swiftly adjust to a changing market based on contracts with the union.
As supporters of the Second Amendment, we have to support manufacturers having the ability to adjust the products they produce to the demand of the marketplace. Following the backlash from consumers, Colt provided an explanation in the form of a statement from their CEO, Dennis Veilleux. You can read the full statement by clicking the link. In the statement, Colt reaffirmed its support of the Second Amendment and explained their decision was driven by the changing market.
Look, the timing was unfortunate, and we can accuse Colt of having poor optics, but business decisions have to be made when the market dictates, and it is unfortunate that the market dictated such a change at a time when retailers are virtue signaling and lawmakers are in full assault mode on the Second Amendment. I do fault Colt for not getting out ahead of the backlash and issuing a statement in advance of the announcement.
I do not for a minute believe that Colt Manufacturing has turned its back on gun owners or is anti-Second Amendment. Given their recent and current financial challenges, I think they made the best decision to limit production of an oversupplied product in a soft market and focus their efforts on more lucrative government contracts. I don’t think anyone can fault them for making the best business decision for their shareholders, employees, and customers.
So everyone needs to take a deep breath, look at Colt’s long history of supporting gun owners, and cut them just a little bit of slack. And if you really want to help gunmakers survive this downturn, now is a great time to go out and buy that AR-15. You will never find a better deal and it just might help hundreds of companies stay afloat during a very difficult time for the entire industry. That is just my $0.02.