As CT weighs more gun controls, sales of CT company Ruger ebbing in 2022

Gun Rights

A week after defending the gun industry before a U.S. House of Representatives committee, the CEO of Ruger said on Thursday that America’s latest gun binge continues to ebb from record levels last year.

Ruger has its headquarters in Fairfield as one of the two largest sellers of guns for personal use, along with Smith & Wesson. CEO Chris Killoy spoke last week to members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, with his Smith & Wesson counterpart Mark Smith skipping the hearing. That triggered a subpoena for a future appearance.

The House committee has been investigating whether firearms makers are taking sufficient measures to minimize the odds of assault guns being used for violent crime. Last month, Gov. Ned Lamont vowed to “challenge the system” by pushing for new gun-control measures next year in Connecticut, if he is elected to a second term.

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Between April and June, overall Ruger revenue totaled $140 million, down 30 percent from the second quarter of 2021 which was its biggest ever for revenue and profits. In the first six months of this year, queries to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System are off 17 percent, but background checks remain up from 2019 and prior years.

“I would say we are in a much more normal summer season,” Killoy said Thursday morning in a conference call. “As we came into the summer, we did see some slowing of retail traffic. The good news is things associated with the fall hunting season seem to be coming on strong now.”

Ruger profits totaled $20.8 million in the second quarter, less than half the earnings it tallied over the same period a year earlier. The company has been on a major marketing push for its new Marlin lever-action rifles, which it acquired for $28 million in 2020 from bankrupt Remington.

“Every call someone’s asking, ‘Can we get more Marlins?’” Killoy said Thursday, speaking of the company’s 15 wholesalers that distribute its products. “At the NRA meetings in Houston, … they were the belles of the ball.”

Assault guns — termed “modern sporting rifles” by the industry — were the major focus of last week’s House Oversight Committee chaired by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who referenced a string of mass shootings in America dating back to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 in Newtown. Sandy Hook remains in the news this week via a defamation trial against Alex Jones, who made public statements for years claiming the attack was a hoax, only to reverse that stance in court this week as he faces the possibility of millions of dollars in damages.

“The House also is planning to take action against the outrageous legal immunity that has protected the gun industry from lawsuits,” Maloney said during last week’s hearing. “In the coming weeks, I intend to introduce additional legislation to hold the gun industry accountable for the damage inflicted by their products.”

During the hearing, Killoy drew a rebuke from Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., after confirming he does not regard modern sporting rifles including AR-15-style guns as inherently more dangerous than other, popular firearms. Ruger sales of AR-15-style rifles totaled $514 million between 2012 and 2021, according to the committee.

“A firearm — any firearm — can be used for good or for evil,” Killoy said earlier in the hearing. “The difference is in the intent of the individual possessing it.”

Includes prior reporting by John Moritz.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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